Antibiotic-resistant pathogens pose a worldwide problem, and as a result, healthcare-related infections affect every country, including the most advanced states. The most recent meeting (RC73) of the European Regional Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the issue of hospital-acquired infections, and health ministers and representatives accepted the region’s antimicrobial resistance plan until 2030.
According to May data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Hungary performs better than the EU average in several indicators.
The rate of hospital-acquired infections in Hungary is about half of the EU average, as stated by the State Secretary for Healthcare on Wednesday, 8 November.
Péter Takács explained that in European Union (EU) countries, 6–7 out of every 100 hospitalized patients are affected by one or more healthcare-associated infections. In Hungary, this ratio was 4 per cent, meaning that fewer hospital-acquired infections were diagnosed in our country compared to the EU average. He added that in the EU, about one-third of inpatients receive at least one antimicrobial agent, while in Hungary, this ratio is 16 per cent. This is a favourable outcome, since the use of antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, can have numerous undesirable consequences.
The state secretary also emphasized that antibiotic resistance is a global problem, significantly contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant, multidrug-resistant pathogens. Therefore, infections caused by these pathogens are unavoidable in departments that treat seriously ill patients with invasive procedures. According to the state secretary, Hungarian healthcare provides the conditions for safe patient care, and compliance with protocols is crucial. The presence of healthcare-associated infections in both non-chronic and chronic inpatient care is inevitable, and many professionals work on reducing the risk of infections and prevention.
Péter Takács recalled that
in 2018, the Chief Medical Officer of the country released methodological guidelines for preventing the four most common and most severe outcome infections:
urinary tract infections, catheter-related bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. These guidelines are periodically reviewed.
Inpatient care facilities evaluate their hand hygiene practices annually based on the WHO Hand Hygiene Self-Assessment Framework (HHSAF). The 2018 amendment to the Ministry of Health’s regulation introduced several measures in this regard. One of the most significant of these new measures is that hand sanitizers and alcohol-based hand disinfectants must be available at all patient care and visitor entry points, and Hungarian hospitals have already been equipped with these. Infection control training and official inspections are ongoing.
To ensure safe hospital care, all state authorities take the necessary measures, but it is also necessary for the public, patients, and their visiting relatives to cooperate in reducing hospital-acquired infections, he added. According to Minister Takács, it is important for patients to follow doctors’ instructions regarding the use of antibiotics, as well as the regulations of healthcare providers that are there to protect and safeguard patients, as well as hospital staff, from infections.