Hospitals, by nature of their function, are hotbeds of infectious disease. It is no wonder then that hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are such a common phenomenon.
Hospitals are full of individuals with a heightened risk of infection. Whether this is through immunocompromising conditions or due to the individuals being elderly, many are at risk in this environment and they are often exposed to people with highly infectious conditions.
In an interview with ExpressHealthcare, Dr Victor D Rosenthal, founder and chairman of the International Nosocomial Infection Control Consortium (INICC), discussed his opinions on the matter with journalist Prathiba Raju. He noted that hygiene is among the principal concerns when it comes to HAIs — in particular device-associated infections (DA-HAIs). Devices such as catheters or respiratory tubes are particularly prone to spreading infections if not kept sterile as they are placed within the body. The lack of protection conferred by the skin means infections are far more likely to take root within the body.
“Over the years, there has been an increase in HAIs among patients in India,” according to Dr Rosenthal. Despite hygiene protocols — covering both usage of medical devices and basic practices such as hand washing — being in place, a lack of compliance with infection control guidelines has resulted in an increased infection rate. “These infections are further leading to morbidity, mortality and increased financial burden among patients,” he said.
The data supports these claims. In India, HAIs were found to occur at a rate of one infection for every four hospital visits. In the case of sepsis, 63 percent of patients die in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Likewise, tuberculosis was also found to be rapidly spread in a hospital setting. A right to information query found that a total of 66 employees at the Tuberculosis Hospital in Sewri contracted the disease in the past five years. The number of staff members being infected may be indicative of a lack of safety and sanitation protocols at the hospital. This is putting the lives of both staff and patients at risk, as it is not a far stretch to assume patients and relatives are also being infected.
Hygiene protocols are already in place in Indian hospitals. What needs to be altered is the enforcement of these protocols. Neglect for the standards of hygiene necessary in a hospital is demonstrably causing mortality rates to rise, these preventable deaths cannot be allowed to continue when simply washing the hands could save a life.