Infections down in hospitals and care homes 

Surgical site infections have gone down, the report says © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Progress has been made in reducing infections picked up in hospitals and care homes in Switzerland, thanks to improved prevention efforts, health officials say.  

This content was published on May 3, 2019 - 14:35

Every year, some 70,000 patients fall ill in Swiss hospitals due to a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), and approximately 2,000 of them die as a result, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.  

Studies show that, depending on the type of infection, 20%-50% of these infections could be avoided through targeted monitoring and prevention measures.  

Switzerland is tackling the issue through its national strategy for the monitoring, prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (NOSO StrategyExternal link), for which the 2018 annual report was published on FridayExternal link

Surgical site infections 

It found progress in particular in the surgical site infection rate: there was a 10% drop within two years, which public health officials said was due to three special measures: hair removal, preoperative wound disinfection and antibiotic prophylaxis (used before surgery for preventative reasons).  

The hospitals taking part in this specially-developed module during its pilot phase improved their rate of applying the measures correctly, from 59% to 80%. The module has now been approved for use in all hospitals. 

Healthcare-associated infection (HAI) infections can also break out across several hospitals when they are transmitted from one to another. In this case, it is important to identify the source of infection and how it is being transmitted.  In future, investigations into these outbreaks will become more systematic and will use a standardised protocol, the public health office said. 

Care homes, ministerial meeting 

The public health office also hailed initiatives taken by its cantonal partners. Five cantons in the French-speaking part of Switzerland are using guidelines, developed in canton Vaud, for more easily diagnosing infections in care homes. These guidelines are to be made available to all interested care homes across Switzerland. 

In February 2020 Switzerland will also be hosting the Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety for the very first time, in Montreux, the office announced further. This takes into account the fact that “the fight against [HAI] infections is a global problem”, the statement said. It will be one of the two main topics at the meeting, which will gather together health ministers from several dozen countries.  

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