Patient safety must come first!

Copyright 2012

Do more to reduce hospital-acquired infections

My letter was first published in The Straits Times Forum Online, 5 March 2013

LAST Thursday, I spoke on the topic, Impact Of Hospital-Acquired Infections - The Family, at the 3rd International Congress of the Infection Control Association (Singapore) with a heavy heart, as I remembered my late father and other patients who had died from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in our public hospitals.

On a positive note, it was also a day to rejoice as I reckon that patient advocacy in Singapore has made good progress, because the Infection Control Association (Singapore) had given me, a layperson and patient advocate, the opportunity to drive home the message, "Don't make me a sitting duck for HAI!", to the congress attendees, who were health-care workers.

Hospital-acquired infections can lead to deaths. They are costly and difficult to treat; prolonged hospital stays due to hospital-acquired infections have also worsened the current bed crunch in public hospitals.

Undoubtedly, public hospitals have made an effort to improve their practices and compliance with infection prevention and control strategies over the recent years. Unfortunately, they are unable to measure the success of their infection control initiatives as the statistics on hospital-acquired infections in public hospitals are not readily available, unlike in other areas such as Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

I urge the Health Ministry and public hospitals to learn from their overseas counterparts that have already developed data mining technologies to identify infections as they occur, and to recommend changes in processes and practices to reduce future infections.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)

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