Editorials

Healthcare associated infections

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3721 (Published 28 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3721
  1. Andreas Voss, Professor of medical microbiology and infection control
  1. 1Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  1. vossandreas@gmail.com

    National bodies and guidelines should be less suggestive and more directive

    In Europe about 7% of patients in hospital develop healthcare associated infections.1 The associated financial burden of these infections for the United Kingdom is estimated to be £1-11bn (€1.1-12.6bn; $1.6-18bn). 2 3 Current policies aim for, perhaps unrealistically, 100% prevention.

    The British Medical Association recently published guidelines on how to tackle healthcare associated infections, and set priorities for action.4 The most important changes in the guidelines are the shift from policies dealing with micro-organisms (especially meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile) to policies aimed at reducing rates of healthcare associated infections (such as surgical site infections, ventilator associated pneumonia, and urinary tract infections) and changing behaviour.

    How the suggested interventions are understood and implemented by health professionals is critical in determining whether they will be successful. Although interventions to improve patients’ safety may seem simple (see box) it is non-compliance with the interventions that is the problem.

    The guidelines stress …

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