One in every 19 patients will pick up infection in our hospitals
ONE in every 19 patients in Irish hospitals has a healthcare infection such as MRSA, which was acquired in the course of their treatment.
The figure is lower than the European average of one in 18, according to a new survey by the European disease watchdog.
It means that in any given day, around 494 patients in Irish hospitals have an infection acquired during a stay in hospital or other healthcare setting.
More than 1,000 hospitals in 30 European countries took part in the first survey of its kind from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The main infections affecting Irish patients are pneumonia and lower respiratory tract infections, which accounted for one in five of the patients.
Surgical site infections suffered by those who had an operation were also a serious problem, as were urinary tract infections. Bloodstream infections, such as MRSA, accounted for 14pc of those affected.
The report pointed out that although some of these infections can be treated easily, others may more seriously affect a patient's health, increasing their stay in the hospital, requiring further surgical intervention or prolonged treatment with antibiotics and "causing considerable distress to these patients".
The prevalence of healthcare-associated infections was highest amongst patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs).
Marc Sprenger, the watchdog's director, said: "The survey confirms that healthcare-associated infections pose a major public health problem and a threat to European patients."
Overall, the figures involved amount to an estimated total of 3.2 million patients each year.