By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
A total of 1533 patients got infections from Gauteng public hospitals in the last three years, and 20 died from these infections that are largely caused by poor hygiene.
These shock figures are revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
The technical name for hospital-acquired infections is nosocomial, which refers to infections that are caught in hospitals, often caused by organisms that are resistant to antibiotics.
The number of nosocomial infections has increased alarmingly, rising from 236 in 2012, to 322 in 2013 and 975 patients in 2014.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the worst hospital for infecting patients. Last year, 376 patients got nosocomial infections and 13 died, mostly babies from Klebsiella pneumonia.
Other hospitals with high infection rates in 2014 were as follows:
- George Mukhari Hospital – 146 patients;
- Steve Biko Hospital – 138 infections;
- Leratong Hospital – 79 infections;
- Helen Joseph Hospital – 77 infections;
- Sebokeng Hospital – 26 infections; and
- Natalspruit Hospital – 21 infections.
The most common nosocomial infections last year were as follows:
- Klebsiella Pneumoniae – 294 infections;
- Acinetobacter Baumanli – 226 infections;
- Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) – 145 infections;
- Escheria Coli – 99 infections;
- Pseudomonas Aeruginosa – 91 infections; and
- Candida Albican – 51 infections.
According to Mahlangu, predisposing factors for nosocomial infections are:
- Population growth which leads to overcrowding of patients;
- Premature babies are vulnerable to acquiring micro-organisms in hospital because their immune system is not well-developed; and
- The recommended standard for space between incubators is 91 cm apart.
She says that steps to bring down these infections include continuous monitoring and adherence to World Health Organization protocols, and involving the community in hand hygiene practices when they visit relatives in hospital.
I am disturbed by the increasing rate of nosocomial infections in Gauteng hospitals, and special attention needs to be paid to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
It is encouraging that there were only 8 nosocomial infections at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last year, which shows that infection rates can be kept down with proper care.
It is terrible that so many patients suffer from infections they get in hospitals, often because of poor hygiene, which needs to improve radically.