Hospitals are a place of healing, but sometimes, they can be the cause for illness as well. Fortunately, German clinics are especially proactive about protecting patient safety through strict hygiene measures. Germany has strict laws about identifying and reporting potentially dangerous infections, and many hospitals are going above and beyond what is legally required to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria.
More hand washing to prevent spread of disease
Due to the high concentration of sick people in a small area, germs can spread quickly in a hospital environment. The risk is particularly high for people with compromised immune systems or with open wounds – such as people recovering from surgery. This can lead to hospital-acquired diseases, or nosocomial infections.
The number-one way germs are spread in a hospital is by dirty hands. Fortunately, this is a problem that is easy to fix. Hospitals in Germany have been investing significant resources in the past decade in improving hand hygiene. They have increased the number of hand washing facilities, installed hand sanitizer dispensers for quick disinfection, and improved hygiene training for medical personnel. In most German hospitals, more than three-quarters of their entire staff are certified as having received extra education with regards to hygiene.
Responsible antibiotic use to prevent resistant bacteria
Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are a growing problem not just in Germany but worldwide. An overuse of certain antibiotics can lead to treatment ineffectiveness as bacteria develop resistant strains. The most dangerous bacteria are multiresistant bacteria, which can resist treatment from many different antibiotics. Significant measures have been taken worldwide in recent years to track and prevent the spread of dangerous, multiresistant bacteria. German hospitals are particularly advanced on this front, with many clinics voluntarily tracking antibiotic use even when not legally required in order to prevent the evolution of resistant strains. One hospital’s motto regarding antibiotics? As little as possible, as much as necessary.
Careful screening to detect dangerous pathogens
The Asklepios Clinics in Hamburg are taking particularly strong measures to prevent the spread of multiresistant pathogens such as MRSA and MDRGN. Studies have shown that up to 90% of dangerous pathogens are brought into the hospital by the patients themselves upon arrival. Due to this, Asklepios has made it their policy to examine all high-risk patients for the presence of these bacteria when they arrive and to take the necessary measures to protect other patients. In 2015 Asklepios clinics screened a record number of 140,000 patients for the bacteria, a more than 50 percent increase from the previous year. Less than five percent of tests were positive, and the patients were isolated and treated with the appropriate protective measures.