Research for infection protection

Interview: “The one specific key to preventing hospital-acquired infection does not exist”

Prof. Dr. med. Petra Gastmeier, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr. med. Petra Gastmeier, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany

Three questions to Prof. Dr. med. Petra Gastmeier, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany


500 000 nosocomial infections per year – which patient group is at highest risk?  

Petra Gastmeier: The development of hospital-acquired infections depends on many factors, for example the patient’s immune status, the type of procedure, and the virulence of the pathogen. A major risk for all types of nosocomial infection are device-related diagnosis and therapy, e.g. catheters, ventilation or dialysis, as they offer pathogens artificial portals of entry.


How does Germany compare to other European countries?


Petra Gastmeier: This depends on the type of infection. For infections associated with hip prostheses, which belong to the most common procedures in Germany, we have – together with Finland, France and the UK – the lowest rate of nosocomial infection in comparison with 12 European countries. For the number of isolated antibiotic-resistant pathogens, Germany ranks in the mid-range with average rates between 10 and 25 per cent. For example, one third of the countries has MRSA rates above 25 per cent.


What will be the greatest challenges in combating nosocomial infections in the future?

Petra Gastmeier: The continuous increase of multidrug-resistant germs, particularly Gram-negative pathogens, for which the spectrum of effective antibiotics is very limited. Another problem is that there are no new substances in sight. Additionally, the anticipated, demographically induced increase in invasive procedures will further enhance the risk of hospital-acquired infection.


Source:
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.