A roundtable took place on 29th of January 2019 in the European Parliament. Fifteen relevant health stakeholders participated in a dynamic debate to assess levels of safety in health settings. The aim was to let them engage with policymakers and to more specifically consider key proposals to strengthen infection prevention and control practices across Europe to build safer healthcare for all. EHMA was represented by Secretariat staff and EHMA Member Prof. Dr. Dr. Wilfried Von Eiff, Centrum für Krankenhaus-Management (CKM), who joined the event as panelist.
Despite the political priorities of HCAIs, HCAIs in hospitals alone cause more deaths in Europe than any other infectious disease under surveillance at ECDC. A total of 8,8 million HealthCare Associated Infections (HCAIs) were estimated to occur each year in European hospitals and long-term care facilities combined. For example, on any given day 1/15 hospital patients have at least one HCAI which means that 98000 patients have at least 1 HCAI. This results in prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability and massive additional costs for health systems as well as for patients and their family. However, more than half of certain HCAIs are considered preventable.
In order to reduce HCAIs rates, the main key points raised by the health stakeholders that need to be addressed by policymakers are: 1. Focus on stakeholder engagement across Europe 2. Boost research, development and innovation 3. Shape a global agenda.
Focus on stakeholder engagement across Europe
“Share the ownership of the problem as well as ownership of the solution”. Most of the speakers agreed that everybody needs to work together and learn from each other in order to create the solution: politicians, patients, civil society, veterinarians, caregivers, pharmacists. A bottom-up approach should be followed. This means that policy makers should focus on the experience of nurses and patients. Moreover, cultural differences between regions and countries should be taken into account in improving patient safety.
Boost research, development and innovation
“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”. The speakers pointed out the importance of data. Guidelines and recommendations should be based on evidence. The right data should be collected and used in an appropriate way. For example, it was shown that different measures were used to measure the same problem. This results in a heterogeneous set of data. Ideally, data measures should be uniformed across Europe. Finally, data on HCAIs should go back to the clinicians and nurses. This is not happening nowadays. Such feedback will allow to raise awareness which can then lead to improvement of practices in the future.
Shape a global agenda
“Do the right thing, at the right time”. According to the WHO, 3 steps are needed to reduce HCAIs. First, we need to understand the problem. Second, we need to base the recommendations on evidence. Lastly, these recommendations should be properly implemented. Europe should become the reference in best practices for HCAIs. This can be achieved by creating guidelines and preventive measures. A focus should be put on the patient journey instead of on their hospital stay. Guidelines should be adapted to the culture of the country, region and hospital. Training should be harmonised over EU countries. However, a reduction of HCAIs cannot be achieved by only creating guidelines. Such guidelines need to be implemented and translated into action. The WHO suggests that a multimodal strategy together with a multidisciplinary team is the best way to develop action plans. We need an action plan for each EU country/region, and this should be advertised and promoted.