“We learn more from non success-stories”, said Pamela Rendi-Wagner (Austrian Ministry of Health) in view of the failures in terms of hospital hygiene during the last decades. This statement was one of many important statements and ideas expressed on the first Semmelweis CEE Conference on Hospital Hygiene and Patient Safety (3rd and 4th March) in Vienna.
“Just the understanding that we made mistakes takes us further”: this was the unanimous opinion of the participants of the Conference. Admit failings, is the key to make a turnaround in view of the still high infection rates in many European countries, in particular CEE countries. At least 37.000 people every year are dying because of nosocomial infections in Europe. And in many cases they die just because of one simple circumstance: missing hand hygiene. A circumstance, that is not understandable, considering the fact, that hand hygiene in modern times is so easy in comparison to the period when the Austrian-Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis lived (1818-1865). While he demanded of his colleagues to put their hands five minutes in skin damaging chlorine solution, medical staff today does not even need a minute to clean hands with alcohol. “Zero tolerance against such behavior”, said Pittet in his speech “Would Semmelweis be heard today” on the second day of the Conference. He and his colleagues are tirelessly fighting for a consistent implementation of this simple measure all over the word. Also Semmelweis was very strict in this point and permanently confronted the hospital directors with this unpleasant topic. But compared to Pittet he had to push through his request without any help from other people.
Every supermarket makes it!
While Semmelweis made accurate records, a systematic and extensive documentation of all infections is missing today in many hospitals. “Every supermarket makes it”, said Alex Blaicher, Chef of the Malteser Hospitals in Sachsen-Brandenburg. Bringing the ministry, the social insurance and all other stake holders on one table is tricky”, replied Pamela Rendi Wagner. But in terms of absolute transparency it must be done. With the first Semmelweis CEE Conference there is definitely the hope, that many things regarding hospital hygiene and patient safety are changing for the better”, said Pittet. By the way – the second Conference will take place the 7th and 8th of March in Budapest – a wish of Didier Pittet, who is a great admirer of Ignaz Semmelweis, and who wants to move the important event a little more into the center of the CEE region.