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Hospital Acquired Infections & Threats in Greece 


the Guardian Article

“In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos who heads the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones.” 
"...There’s the problem of equipment and, periodically, lack of supplies like gloves, catheters, and cleaning tissues,” He said, adding that “Frequently, patients are placed on beds that have not been disinfected. Staff are so overworked they don’t have time to wash their hands and often there is no antiseptic soap anyway.” , 

Minister's of Health  Answer

Guardian’s report is referring to data from 2011 and 2012 and is not based on any documented study of the situation in Greece’s healthcare system that takes into account the new situation and recent data of ELSTAT,” Health Minister Andreas Xanthos  said.
“We repeat, for those who do not understand: Greece is a safe country in terms of healthcare, the ESY is now being stabilized and upgraded daily,” he said, noting the government has hired permanent staff and hospitals are sufficiently equipped. 
 “The baseless scaremongering, vulgar populism and systematic effort to create a climate of insecurity in society will not pass,” he added.  Full Statement, Jan.2, 2017



The Greek government continued its tactics, reminiscent of authoritarian-style regimes of older days, by alleging the recent article published by British media outlet “Guardian”, which outlined the atrocious conditions in the Greek public hospitals, was more or less a fabricated piece of reporting, despite the fact that the article covered the period of 2011 and 2012 when SYRIZA was not in power.

In the culmination of its conspiracy theories against the press, the government released a non-paper alleging that reports of a rise in social security contributions was an “attempt to terrorize the citizens”

Comment Protothema, January3, 2017

the Late 2016 Shocking Incidents 

One death in Zakynthos, five post-surgical complications in Zakynthos Hospital Alert Greece's Public Health

Experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) had visi ed Zakynthos island  investigating a spate of postoperative complications at the Ionian island’s general hospital.

No offical conclusions of the clinical investigation has been announced so far, as of January 3, 2017 ...

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39 year old former MP saved from HAI septic shock, by medical miracle, doctors said

Greek former MP Thanos Plevris life has been extremely seriously threatened after entering Greek hospital for a routine operation which led to an HAI infection,  and been moved to  intensive care unit by acute septicemia

After staying for at least one week at the ICU of Athens Medical Hospital , when chances for saving his life were deterior...

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Half of infections could be prevented at no cost 
 by the Clinical Epidemiologist's survey 

There are many factors that contribute to the increased risk for developing HAIs in Greece. 
  • One factor is the hospital environment (health professionals, medical tools, visitors, etc.). 
  • An equally important factor is the use of invasive instruments (urinary catheters, ventilators and central venous catheters).
 But, the most important factor is the lack of compliance of the healthcare professionals to simple standard practices, such as
  • compliance with hand hygiene practices o
with practices concerning the insertion and maintenance of invasive instruments (such as urinary catheters, central venous catheters and ventilators). 

Unfortunately, in Greece, compliance with hand hygiene is extremely low (approximately 33%) and seems to be due to inappropriate information/training of medical and nursing staff with regards to the implementation of best practices. 

This conclusion is supported firstly, in line with data collected by the research team of the Collaborative Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Outcomes Research (CLEO) regarding infrastructure and hand hygiene supplies in selected hospitals in Greece, 
  • the ECDC ranks Greece among the countries with the largest consumption of antiseptic, indicating that there is adequate availability of antiseptic in Greek hospitals
  • . Secondly, data and actions by CLEO have shown that the rate of compliance in hand hygiene increased by 50% following a simple and practically inexpensive intervention, the implementation of a campaign on the proper hand washing technique for the medical and nursing staff of Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital.

HAI in Greece Published Data,Year by Year 

ECDC data shows that about 1 in 10 hospitalized patients (~9%) in Greece develops HAI, placing it among the European countries with the highest rate of HAI occurrence. 

The occurrence rate of HAIs is dramatically higher in ICUs for adults and newborns, reaching 50% and 30% respectively. 

Unfortunately, Greece ranks among the top countries in Europe in HAIs that are caused by resistant germs and first in the consumption of antibiotics in hospitals (54.7%).

Containment of carbapenem resistance rates of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii in Greek hospital with a concomitant increase in colistin, gentamicin and tigecycline resistance.

The Hellenic center for disease control and prevention has launched the "Prokroustes" nationwide action plan to tackle HAI. Carbapenem resistance rates have been contained for Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii but not for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. More worryingly, in accordance with their overuse against carbapenem-resistant bacteria, resistance rates to colistin and tigecycline have risen significantly. 

source PUBMED, July 2015

HAI could be eliminated, official assessment 

despite the country’s financial crisis, it is possible to reduce the occurrence of HAIs, with the implementation of simple preventive and infection control programs, as international data has shown that more than 50% of HAIs can be prevented by implementing such programs
These programs focus 
  • on the continuous surveillance of HAIs and their respective prevention practices
  • on the continuous disclosure of such data to the medical and nursing staff and to hospital administrators
  • and on the training of health professionals in prevention practices. 

CLEO a nonprofit organization,  founded by the grant of Stavros Niarchos Foundation to improve patients' safety and health services in Greek hospitals  


The migrants' flows: Greece Alarmed in 2015

Global superbug crisis threatens especially Greece due to migration crisis 

It is feared the crisis could further penetrate Europe as displaced migrants enter from a war-torn Middle East, where countries such as Syria have increasing levels of antibiotic resistance.Dr Brown said undelying that  “It is almost too late” He said: “In 2016, a number of factors are coming together - including the effects of the migration crisis 

 Dr David Brown, director at Antibiotic Research UK , Dec. 2015

In at least 3 countries (Italy, Greece and Malta) the resistance to last-line antibiotics has become an “endemic problem”, meaning their hospitals are unable to treat patients infected with resistant bacteria.

Southern Europe, places such as Italy and Greece, and the Middle East are more under threat because of weaker health systems and weaker monitoring systems. India, especially, could be in real trouble.

The migration crisis will probably not be helping anything as a lot of people coming over from Syria could be bringing bugs

Shocking Numbers since 2013, 2012

According to a report by the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC), Greek patients rank first in Europe in antibiotics consumption and fourth in nosocomial infections.

These two “records” are directly connected the one with the other as antibiotics overuse is a chronic problem in Greece which has created multi-resistant germs. “The survey confirms that healthcare-associated infections pose a major public health problem and a threat to European patients,” said Marc Sprenger, ECDC Director, according to a statement


Greek hospitals are in such dire straits that staff are failing to keep up basic disease controls such as using gloves and gowns, threatening a rise in multidrug-resistant infections, according to Europe's top health official

"We already knew Greece is in a very bad situation regarding antibiotic resistant infections, Marc Sprenger, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). said , underlying that the situation means patients with highly infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) may not get the treatment they need, raising the risk that dangerous drug-resistant forms will tighten their grip on Europe.  

Reuters,  Dec 4, 2012 5:14pm EST

Australia and Canada shield protection against HAI imported through patients hospitalized in Greece

Canada's ‘detect and protect strategy

Bruce Gamage, manager of B.C.’s Provincial Infection Control Network, said special protocols have been in place in Canada hospitals for ill patients returning from Greece.. and not only .

“They stay in their own room, and everyone who goes in the room wears gowns and gloves.” said Gamage.”We stress handwashing, to ensure it doesn’t get spread around the hospital.”

Dr. Linda Hoang, a medical microbiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said some of the CRE carriers contracted the bacteria due to a recent phenomenon known as “medical tourism” ... find source 

Australian hospitals warned over new antibiotic-resistant superbug found in Italy and Greece 

Victorian hospitals are told to strictly enforce infection control measures after being warned about a new antibiotic-resistant superbug called KPC which is believed to be responsible for eighteen deaths since 2012.

“We’re advising now that our system is on heightened alert.”   

Dr Romanes , Victorian state chief officer, said hospitals have been urged to introduce new interim screening requirements to pick up the bacteria, which is typically found in Greece and Italy.

ABC News, Australia,  Updated 17 Jun 2015, 10:17am

Today Recent findings more than worrying  

MDR bugs not only in hospitals

FEMS Microbiology Ecology Advance Access published February 24, 2016

  As a conclusion, it seems that Greek water bodies could serve as a potential reservoir of resistant P. aeruginosa isolates posing threats to human and animal health

Characterization of Salmonella isolates from municipal sewage, patients, foods, and animals in Greece using antimicrobial susceptibility testing 

Research (Published online: 24-03-2016)

This study indicates that municipal wastewater would be of interest to further monitor the community’s prevalence of subclinical or non-reported S. Enterica infections

 Published: February 15, 2016
In order to investigate the antibiotic resistance extent, samples from different untreated and unpasteurized honey samples from different botanical sources purchased in bulk from village open markets in Greece were studied. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from honeys is on the rise. A multiresistance antibiotic profile was effective for most bacterial strains, and pronounced resistance profiles were observed for the commonly used antibiotics. All strains demonstrate resistance to Vancomycin, Ampicillin, Oxacillin and Ceftiofur. High prevalence of S. Aureus, sub. aureus and B. subtilis resistant strains was observed. Metronidazole, Chloramphenicol and Tylosin conserved an almost absent resistance. 

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