Swiss hospital germs cause ‘scores of deaths’

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Swiss hospital germs cause ‘scores of deaths’
Photo: Swissnoso

Every year 600 deaths and 15,000 infections could be avoided in Swiss hospital operating rooms through better hygiene standards, says Swissnoso, an organization dedicated to reducing hospital-borne disease.


The organization says Switzerland lags behind other European countries when it comes to countering germs in healthcare facilities.

The federal public health office is now launching a national programme to reduce the number of cases of infection, the Tages Anzeiger newspaper reported on Monday.

A study showed that hands are disinfected by care givers in 60 percent of Swiss health facilities, with nursing staff being generally more conscientious than doctors, the newspaper said.

Swissnoso, a group of senior hygiene and infection specialists linked to the Zurich university hospital system, have since 1994 been promoting a checklist of measures, including “systematic hand washing”.

But the non-binding guidelines have not been enough to make a difference, the group says.

Switzerland falls below the European average and that of the US when it comes to hospital-borne infections, Swissnoso says.

Swiss hospitals score particularly poorly for operations on the colon or rectum, with every eighth patient suffering from an infection.

In Germany, the rate is one in 11, while in France it is one in 13 and in the US one in 16.

If hygiene standards were as high as in France, there would be 400 fewer infection cases from the 9,700 intestinal operations conducted every year in Switzerland, Swissnoso says.

The group says 300 cases of infection in knee and hip replacement surgery could be eliminated annually in Switzerland through better hygiene.

Bypass surgery is another area where better hygiene could cut cases of infection and even deaths, it says.

The public health office intends to “intelligently and sustainably” reduce the number of infections through a “national quality” program to be launched in 2015, a spokesman said. 


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