They arrive at hospital expecting to get well, but as tens of thousands of Norwegians experience every year, hospitals spread the real diseases. At least six percent of patients get infections as a direct result of hospitalization, according to statistics from The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Nasjonalt Folkehelseinstitutt), made public this week. While the figure in itself is severe enough, experts warn that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Professor Bjørg Marit Andersen at Ullevål university hospital, told newspaper Aftenposten that an estimated 60,000-70,000 patients are infected at hospitals every year, and that between 300 and 400 patients die annually as a result. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health admits that their figure, at 5,7 percent, is deceivingly low. "We count the most severe, common and important cases of infection," said chief physician Bjørn Iversen, "But the number of patients infected is obviously much greater than that."
Although many infections are impossible to avoid, stemming from surgery and general treatment combined with patient’s reduced immune systems, the experts believe that approximately half of the incidents can be avoided.
Reducing the number of patients infected has, however, proved difficult in the past. In a large-scale campaign to improve hygiene among hospital staff, initiated by former Health Minister Dagfinn Høybråten, the use of a bacteria-killing liquid by health workers quintupled to 120,000 liters a year, without reducing the number of patients infected at hospitals.
Vast variations in infection figures across hospitals nonetheless indicate that some infections may be linked to hospitals' hygiene routines.
Aftenposten English Web Desk