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“Hygiene is a Huge Problem in German Hospitals“ | RFID Can Help with This

Use Cases | By PR RFID im Blick | 31 March 2015
‘The dangerous employee’ ‘The dangerous employee’

Failure to comply with the simplest rules is leading to serious consequences – RFID can help with this, according to Prof. Dr. Med. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow

‘The dangerous employee’ – that is what Prof. Dr. Klaus- Dieter Zastrow calls staff in hospitals who are not aware of the consequences of their non-compliance with hygiene guidelines. The expert for hospital hygiene denounces such abuses and sees a great potential for optimisation, also through the use of RFID. “Lack of hygiene has to be recognised explicitly – germs spread by people in hospitals due to improper hygiene measures are responsible for several thousand deaths and long-term damages,” says Prof. Dr. Zastrow.

Prof. Dr. Med. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, Chief Physician of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Vivantes Clinics Berlin, in an interview with “RFID im Blick”.

Prof. Dr. Med. Zastrow, is it possible to implement hygiene rules to 100 per cent effect in hospitals?

Prof. Dr. med. Klaus-Dieter ZastrowProf. Dr. med. Klaus-Dieter ZastrowYes! But only if all parties are involved, not just nurses, doctors and union representatives, but also health authorities and, not least, politicians. Firstly, inspections by health authorities are totally inadequate as they are currently being carried out. Inspections are often announced weeks in advance and then not even the infectionrelated activities such as dressing changes, the laying of venous catheters or invasive procedures in operating theatres are checked. Far-reaching hygiene errors are therefore not always being caught. However, every individual has to be involved. Hand disinfection is a key factor here. Every nurse and every doctor is told countless times in training how important it is to properly disinfect skin and hands with a sufficient quantity of disinfectant and yet still, for various reasons, the obligation is only fulfilled half-heartedly.

“Resistance to support measures that comply with hygiene guidelines are for me a sign that hospital employees are not aware of the fact that the greatest danger comes from themselves.”

Often staff shortage and excessive workloads are blamed for hygiene shortcomings. Do you agree with this?

No. The fundamental debate about staff shortages is not profound/ convincing. It is perfectly correct – the legally required personnel for intensive care units is one nurse to two patients. In isolation wards, there must be ratio of one to one. If a caregiver is responsible for four isolation patients, it is only a matter of time before all other patients are infected with the same infection. These oftenpractised nurse-patient ratios in Germany are absolutely unacceptable from my point of view. It is different on normal wards. In peak periods, it does not matter whether a dressing is changed half an hour earlier or later. Another point: The Federal Court of Justice in Germany “Bundesgerichtshof” sees the reprocessing of sterile goods in hospitals as a fully manageable risk. The technology required is known and hopefully should also be available. All operations – excluding emergencies – are planned, so there is plenty of time for all tasks. Staff shortage is not the main cause of all evils.

How can hospital staff do more to support the hygiene guidelines and back up the measures already being taken?

There are systems that require hospital staff to wear a RFID transponder. A correspondingly equipped disinfectant dispenser in the patient room would recognise the transponder and emit a visual or audible signal to indicate the not yet carried out hand disinfection. The signal will stop only once the hospital staff have taken the necessary amount of disinfectant fluid. The most common mistake with hand disinfection is not that hospital staff avoid it entirely, but that they feel safe even when they perform the hand disinfection over too brief a time and don’t take enough disinfectant. Nurses and doctors in Vivantes clinics have come to terms with such a system, however, the concerns of the union representatives regarding the possible control and supervision of employees has brought the introduction to a halt. However, the resistance to support the hygiene measures to me are a sign that people are not aware of the threat they themselves pose. Therefore, the necessary consequences are that employees who violate the rule three times in succession should be dismissed. Such employees are a real danger to our patients. A taxi driver who fails to stop at a “red” traffic light three times and who seriously injures a pedestrian, would undoubtedly lose his driver’s licence.

Read more about RFID in Healthcare (One Topic, Four Usage Areas: the Patient, the Hospital, the Laboratory and Medical Engineering) in the English March 2015 Edition!

Take part in the “RFID tomorrow 2015” Conference! The forum 5 is dealing with RFID in Medical Processes!

Last modified on Thursday, 22 October 2015 13:09
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