HomeNews EventsNewsHigh prevalence of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use in hospitals

High prevalence of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use in hospitals

02 Oct 2018

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Health and involving 5,415 adult inpatients from 13 public and private acute hospitals found that 11.9 per cent of the patients caught an infection while being treated for other conditions.

About one in four of the affected had an infection in their bloodstream, while a similar number had pneumonia. What is more worrying is that 7 per cent of such healthcare-associated infections were caused by bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics.

“That means we have to use more toxic and less effective antibiotics,” said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, Infectious Diseases Programme Leader, who was a member of the study team.

The study also looked at the prevalence of antimicrobial use and found that more than half of the hospital patients were on one or more antimicrobials. Not all patients on antimicrobials had infections; some had received the drug as a precaution against infection. While this is standard for patients in hospital for surgery, keeping them on antimicrobials for more than 24 hours may be associated with increased risk of surgical site infection.

A/Prof Hsu said that one in two is “an astoundingly high number”, compared to European hospitals, which have one in three hospitalised patients on such drugs.

The study team pointed out that high use of antimicrobials is known to increase resistance in microorganisms, and added that “reducing inappropriate antimicrobial prescribing practices may curb the development of antimicrobial resistance”.

The study’s findings were published in Clinical Infectious Diseases last year.

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