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Why are 162 deaths less interesting than 2.400 deaths?

Portrait of Univ.-Prof. Dr. Norbert Pateisky speaking into a microphone
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162 deaths between 1 January and 31 May 2015 – this was communicating the Federal Ministry of the Interior today (1 June) via Austria Press Agency (APA). Without a doubt: 162 deaths are too much. But why nobody is shocked by the 2.400 people who die each year in Austria due to nosocomial infections?

Like always, when death figures are announced, the consternation of politicians is great, and improvements in terms of safety are announced. But with dramatic numbers in terms of nosocomial infections is dealed differently. Why the death of 2.400 people (2014) who die of nosocomial infections, make us less concerned? About this fact Dr. Maria Kletecka-Pulker (Platform for Patient Safety) recently expressed her astonishment (round table “nosocomial infections – costs and consequences”, Josephinum, Vienna: “If on the roads as many people would be killed as by nosocomial infections, politics would probably immediately prescribe countermeasures. It is high time to take action against nosocomial infections.”

A similar comparison draws Univ.-Prof. Dr. Norbert Pateisky, former risk manager at the General Hospital in Vienna (AKH) and now member of the board of AssekuRisk Safety Management. He refers to the number of deaths in air traffic and reminds the media of their duty: “At the German Wings crash in March 150 people died and this incident was in the media for weeks. In Germany, more than 400 people die per week because of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) and the reporting is virtually non-existent. I would prefer to see a similar media attention as for German Wings.”

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