Lebanon News

Hospitals urged to act against infection risks

File - General security personnel stand guard near the AUBMC building in Hamra, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Health Ministry and Association of Hospital Owners are urging hospitals to take steps to curb the rising rate of infections transmitted between staff by sharp medical equipment and tools. The American University of Beirut’s medical center organized its first “Sharps Safety” awareness day Friday to promote the prevention of injuries and diseases transmitted by needles and other sharp medical instruments.

“There is a growing concern regarding the transmission of some diseases like AIDS and Hepatitis B and C through blood in the hospitals,” said Walid Ammar, the director general of the Health Ministry.

“Workers in the health sector are responsible for taking the necessary measures to avoid exposing themselves and the others to any danger.”

“The program promoting the safe use of sharp medical equipment includes education, training and proficiency testing, and adopting mechanisms to ensure the strict application of measures in this regard.

“For example, using two pairs of medical gloves, avoiding recovering of syringes and adopting an efficient program for documenting and reporting cases of infection.”

Suleiman Haroun, head of the Association of Hospital Owners, noted that “hundreds of thousands of the workers in the health sector are subject to infection annually, with more than 20 kinds of diseases transmitted through the blood.”

He added that “a considerable number of infections are transmitted through syringes or sharp medical equipments in Lebanese hospitals,” noting that this results from both “lack of planning and the medical teams’ noncompliance with instructions and measures that should be taken.”

Haroun also highlighted problems with such infections being reported. “There is no accurate reporting of the cases. ... Studies have shown that fewer than half these cases are reported.”

Haroun called on hospitals to organize programs to limit such infection transmission and initiate give staff the necessary awareness-raising activities and proper training.

“Studies at one of the university hospitals in Beirut showed that 75 percent of the injuries caused by the sharp medical equipment involve syringes, and mainly occur among interns, nurses and technicians aged between 20 and 29,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 15, 2013, on page 3.




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