Thousands get infections in Gauteng hospitals

Henry

A total of 7,457 patients contracted infections in state hospitals in Gauteng last year, mostly due to poor infection control measures.

Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng MEC for health and well-being, disclosed these figures in a written answer to questions from the DA in the Gauteng legislature.

Nosocomial infections, infections acquired in hospitals, are often caused by organisms that are resistant to antibiotics.

According to Nkomo-Ralehoko, there are weekly and monthly surveillance records on hospital-acquired infections, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no data was collected for 2020 and 2021.

A total of 7,457 (6.4%) out of 116,366 patients contracted nosocomial infections last year, of which 5,032 in these hospitals:

  • Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital: 1,542 infections
  • Steve Biko Hospital: 1,365 infections
  • Charlotte Maxeke Hospital: 1,157 infections
  • Helen Joseph Hospital: 613 infections
  • Kalafong Hospital: 337 infections
  • George Mukhari Hospital: 312 infections
  • Tembisa Hospital: 238 infections

The nine regional hospitals accounted for 1,617 (22%) of all hospital-acquired infections, ranging from 138 infections at Pholosong Hospital to 626 infections at Leratong Hospital, which is more than double the next highest figure of 255 infections at Rahima Moosa Hospital.

Among the 12 smaller district hospitals, Kopanong and Odi Hospital had the highest number of nosocomial infections: 194 and 176 infections respectively.

According to Jack Bloom, the DA’s spokesperson on health in Gauteng, there appears to be a sharp increase in nosocomial infections as there were only 975 such infections reported in 2014. The figure is based on a previous official answer to questions in the legislature.

Bloom says this can also possibly be attributed to improved monitoring.

“While Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital had a total of 376 nosocomial infections in 2014, this rose to 1,542 last year,” says Bloom.

“The latest figures point to the need for strict infection control and proper hygiene to reduce hospital infections as much as possible.”

Bloom explains the most common nosocomial infection is CRE or CPE, which are carbapenem-resistant or carbapenemase-producing bacteria. It causes a variety of infections, including urinary tract infection, wound infection, gastroenteritis, meningitis, septicemia and pneumonia.

There were a total of 1,038 ESBL infections, which are resistant to penicillin, 980 cases of Acinetobacter baumannii MDR/XDR infection, and 584 cases of Clostridioides difficile infection, which infects the colon and can be fatal.

“The 468 cases of klebsiella pneumonia are also worrying; it has caused the death of infants in previous outbreaks.

“The antibiotic-resistant infections are also a major headache for doctors because they are difficult to treat, leading to longer hospital stays and sometimes even death.”