Patients at Greek public hospitals are twice as likely to contract a life-threatening infection compared to their European counterparts because of understaffing and shortages in basic sanitation methods, the union of state hospital workers (POEDIN) warned on Tuesday.
Speaking to the press, POEDIN president Michalis Giannakos said that patients “are loosing the battle for life every single day because hospitals have become germ-infested sieves.”
“Over 4 million patients are estimated to contract hospital infections in the European Union every year, with resulting deaths estimated at 37,000,” Giannakos said. “Morbidity from hospital infections in the EU affects 5 percent of admissions. In Greece, an average of 15 percent of patients admitted to public hospitals get infections, with fatalities coming to 30 percent of that number, compared to 15 percent in the EU.”
Giannakos conceded that personal data protection laws make it difficult to collect hard numbers on nationwide infections and fatalities from hospital bacteria and fungi, though the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) does collect data from individual hospital administrations.
The union chief pointed to cutbacks in healthcare as the main culprit behind the high rate of hospital infections. He said that on average, nurses at public hospitals are responsible for up to 40 patients in one shift in regular wards and four patients in intensive care, meaning that they have little time to follow proper hygiene protocol.
Giannakos said that staff shortages also mean that new admissions may be placed on beds that have not been disinfected, a problem that has also been reported in regards with equipment at intensive care units and operating theaters.
He also pointed to shortages in clean bed linen, antiseptics, gloves, gauze and cleaning agents resulting in nurses and doctors being unable to provide the proper level of care, while accusing private cleaning companies hired by hospitals of doing a slipshod job.
Giannakis was speaking at a press conference after former right-wing LAOS MP Thanasis Plevris spent several days in critical condition due to an infection contracted during a routine operation.