High rate of hospital-acquired infection in India

7-10% of every 100 hospitalized patients acquire at least one infection

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7 to 10% of every 100 hospitalized patients, 7% in high-income countries, and 10% in low-middle-income countries acquire at least one Hospital Acquired Infection.

India is grappling with a pressing need to enhance infection control standards in healthcare delivery systems, safeguarding both patients and health professionals from life-threatening diseases. Experts emphasized that the high rate of Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) in India calls for serious attention and infection control needs to take center stage.

Experts advocated for the adoption of advanced autoclaves for sterilization and other infection control measures. Making the Indian government’s guidelines universally enforceable is also the need of the hour, they said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7 to 10% of every 100 hospitalized patients, 7% in high-income countries, and 10% in low-middle-income countries acquire at least one HAI. This percentage is higher in low and middle-income countries like India (nearly 10 %), where inadequate resources, insufficient processes, lack of mandatory regulations, and underreporting exacerbate the problem.

As per the National Center for Biological Information (NCBI), a nearly 30% increase in the mortality rate in hospitals can be attributed to poor infection management.

The National Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in Healthcare Facilities issued by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare emphasize the importance of cleaning, disinfecting, or sterilizing equipment to prevent the transmission of microorganisms between patients and into the environment.

Unfortunately, there is no nationwide legal framework compelling hospitals to adhere to infection control standards, and existing legislation, such as the 2010 Clinical Establishments Act, is not universally enforced.

Experts in the field of microbiology and healthcare have raised their concerns, shedding light on the dire need for comprehensive reforms in infection management within the Indian healthcare system. Surgical instruments used in operation theaters, procedure rooms, and patient wards often fall short of the necessary standards for sterilization and sanitation, posing grave risks to patients.

Dr Jyoti Mutta, senior consultant of Microbiology at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi, said, “There is a lack of awareness among the general population on the importance of infection protection while undergoing surgical procedures and hospitalization. To combat this, the government, expert organizations, hospitals, and HCFs need to pay serious attention to intensifying efforts to improve awareness, standards, and adherence to the national guidelines.”

A study by a team of researchers at Crescent College of Pharmaceuticals Science, Kannur, Kerala revealed that the highest distribution of HAI was found to be Bloodstream Infection (BSI) (41.80%). The study also concluded that HAIs are a significant risk to medical facilities and one of the most often avoidable negative patient outcomes.

Dr. Sauren Panja, senior consultant, Critical Care Services, Internal Medicine at Narayana Health RN Tagore Hospital, Kolkata, said, “The government and expert bodies have been actively promoting health awareness, preventive strategies, and adherence to the different infection control protocols and policies.”

“Proper sterilization of surgical equipment is paramount to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Inadequate sterilization can lead to the transmission of harmful pathogens, like Clostridium difficile, MDR gram-negative bacteria, hepatitis B and C viruses, and HIV. Cross-contamination can trigger bloodstream infection (BSI), respiratory infections, and surgical site infection (SSI). Proper sterilization and autoclaving of the medical equipment and devices are one of the key strategies for the prevention of different healthcare-associated infections,” emphasized Dr. Panda.

According to the experts, technology can play a critical role in containing HAI and the adoption of advanced medical sterilization autoclaves offers an effective measure. Outdated and less efficient sterilization methods endanger patients and healthcare providers alike.

“Advanced autoclaves such as B-class are globally acknowledged as the gold standard for sterilization in healthcare. They employ high-pressure steam and vacuum technology to effectively sterilize medical instruments, equipment, and materials, targeting resilient pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi, thus reducing healthcare-associated infection risks. Hence, advanced and fast autoclaves have emerged as crucial tools in maintaining infection control and patient safety,” said Karolina Matracka, Director, Enbio Group AG.

The call to action resonates among experts—changing the mindset toward medical instrument sterilization and proactively adopting advanced and quality-certified autoclaves is paramount for patient safety and the well-being of healthcare professionals.

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