Organization of infection control in European hospitals

S. Hansen*, W. Zingg, R. Ahmad, Y. Kyratsis, M. Behnke, F. Schwab, D. Pittet, P. Gastmeier, H. Sax, H. Grundmann, B. van Benthem, T. van der Kooi, M. Dettenkofer, M. Martin, H. Richet, E. Szilágyi, E. O.Központ, P. B. Heczko, A. Holmes, B. AllegranziA. Magiorakos, B. Cookson, A. W. Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The Prevention of Hospital Infections by Intervention and Training (PROHIBIT) survey was initiated to investigate the status of healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) prevention across Europe. Aim: This paper presents the methodology of the quantitative PROHIBIT survey and outlines the findings on infection control (IC) structure and organization including management's support at the hospital level. Methods: Hospitals in 34 countries were invited to participate between September 2011 and March 2012. Respondents included IC personnel and hospital management. Findings: Data from 309 hospitals in 24 countries were analysed. Hospitals had a median (interquartile range) of four IC nurses (2-6) and one IC doctor (0-2) per 1000 beds. Almost all hospitals (96%) had defined IC objectives, which mainly addressed hand hygiene (87%), healthcare-associated infection reduction (84%), and antibiotic stewardship (66%). Senior management provided leadership walk rounds in about half of hospitals, most often in Eastern and Northern Europe, 65% and 64%, respectively. In the majority of hospitals (71%), sanctions were not employed for repeated violations of IC practices. Use of sanctions varied significantly by region (P < 0.001), but not by countries' healthcare expenditure. Conclusion: There is great variance in IC staffing and policies across Europe. Some areas of practice, such as hand hygiene, seem to receive considerably more attention than others that are equally important, such as antibiotic stewardship. Programmes in IC suffer from deficiencies in human resources and local policies, ubiquitous factors that negatively impact on IC effectiveness. Strengthening of IC policies in European hospitals should be a public health priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Europe
  • Healthcare-associated infection prevention
  • Hospital


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