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Abstract: Nosocomial infections in Germany

Approximately every seventh hospital patient suffers from an infection. While around one quarter of these infections already exist on hospital admission and probably are the reason for admission, one quarter develop during hospital stay. It can be assumed that in Germany approximately 500 000 patients are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year. The most common nosocomial infections are urinary tract infection, surgical site infection, respiratory tract infection and bloodstream infection; the most important pathogens are E. coli, enterococci and Staphylococcus aureus, which are particularly dangerous when they are multidrug-resistant as infections caused by these germs are difficult to treat. Each year, in Germany, approximately 10 000 to 15 000 patients die from a nosocomial infection.

Not these infections are preventable. Many nosocomial infections originate from the patient’s endogenous bacterial flora. Whenever this flora gets into sterile body parts due to invasive measures such as vascular catheters, urinary tract catheters, ventilation tubes they can trigger nosocomial infections. These infections can only be prevented to a limited extent and the more invasive the treatment, the more difficult this treatment is. But there are also many hospital-acquired infections that are caused because pathogens are transmitted from one patient to another. These infections should absolutely be avoided. It is assumed that around 30 % of the nosocomial infections are preventable.

Speech by Prof. Dr. med. Petra Gastmeier, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany. Lunchtime Symposium: Hospital-acquired infection and hand hygiene: How research findings improve infection protection, Berlin, Germany, 9 November 2012, arranged by the BODE SCIENCE CENTER, Hamburg, Germany, scientific centre of excellence of PAUL HARTMANN AG, Heidenheim, Germany.