How many people die from hospital infections

Robert Koch Institute : Up to 20,000 deaths from hospital germs every year

Berlin - In the hospital, you can be treated to get better faster. But more and more patients in a German clinic are infected with the hospital bacterium Clostridium difficile. And it is not uncommon for this infection to even be fatal. This is based on current estimates by the Robert Koch Institute.

In Germany, there are around 400,000 to 600,000 hospital infections annually. The number of deaths caused by hospital germs is 10,000 to 20,000 per year. However: According to the study, the proportion of patients who get an infection in hospital in Germany is around 3.6 percent lower than the EU average (5.5 percent).

Serious underlying diseases make analysis difficult

So far, a maximum of 15,000 deaths from hospital infections has been assumed. For the study, RKI scientists, together with the European Center for the Prevention and Control of Diseases and the Berlin Charité, analyzed data on pneumonia, urinary tract infections, wound infections, sepsis and diarrheal diseases caused by the pathogen Clostridium difficile. These five infections make up nearly 80 percent of hospital-acquired infections.

In general, according to the RKI, it is difficult to record deaths from so-called nosocomial infections. Many patients suffer from serious underlying diseases that often lead to death even without a hospital infection.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, one of the main reasons for the higher disease burden in Germany is the larger number of inpatients and hospital beds. Germany has the highest number of hospital beds in Europe and the second highest number of hospital patients per 1000 inhabitants per year.

"A reduction in avoidable hospital stays, together with effective infection control and prevention, are therefore important steps to reduce the burden of disease," emphasizes RKI President Lothar Wieler.

Multi-resistant pathogens are particularly dangerous

Hospital infections, a significant proportion of which are preventable, have been a hotly debated topic for years. Only part of this is due to multi-resistant bacteria, against which almost no antibiotics are effective and which are an increasing problem in clinics. They make bacterial infections more difficult or even impossible to treat because antibiotics lose their effectiveness. The consequences are longer and significantly more severe illnesses and deaths.

According to estimates, there are 30,000 to 35,000 hospital infections with dangerous multi-resistant pathogens in Germany. In most cases it is methillicin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - MRSA for short. This strain of bacteria can cause serious to fatal infections. MRSA, for example, is generally harmless to healthy people. For immunocompromised patients in intensive care units, cancer patients, surgery patients, premature babies or people with chronic wounds, however, multi-resistant pathogens can be life-threatening.