Swissmedic: Majority of Swiss hospitals have serious hygiene issues

Swissmedic: Majority of Swiss hospitals have serious hygiene issues

A new report has revealed that the vast majority of hospitals in Switzerland have hygiene problems. The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic), the department of government responsible for monitoring the healthcare system, called for immediate action to improve the quality of medical care.

93 percent of Swiss hospitals have hygiene issues

According to a survey of over 35 hospitals across Switzerland, carried out in 2021 and 2022 and reported in Watson, an astonishing 93 percent of facilities had “deficiencies in the process of handling instruments during sterilisation.” The cleaning, disinfection, packing and storage of surgical instruments, as well as the lack of checks, were also seen as “problematic”.

In all, an average of 12,8 breaches of official legal requirements were recorded in each hospital surveyed, 1,4 of which were considered “critical”. The organisation told Watson that hygiene issues remain extremely important to contain, as contaminated equipment - as was the case for a dentist in Canton Aargau in April - can post a risk of infection.

Hospital equipment found to be poorly maintained

Most of the breaches (6 of the 12,8) related to the upkeep, repair and inspection of equipment at the hospital - especially tools that need specialist maintenance and dedicated workers to keep running correctly. The second most common breach was defects in crisis reporting systems (5 of 12) - Swissmedic found that around 75 percent of doctors, nurses and other medical staff are not well trained to report incidents considered important for patient safety.

Speaking to Watson, the head of the Hospitals Inspections Division of Swissmedic, Janine Conde, said that “the quality management of the hospitals examined is insufficient.” While unwilling to name the hospitals that did particularly poorly, she noted that larger hospital groups were generally better organised than smaller practices.

Swissmedic: Most healthcare centres lack the funds to improve

Conde added that there is “considerable” potential for improvement across the healthcare sector. She also didn’t blame the practices themselves, noting that “most hospitals want to do things right, but they either don't have the knowledge or the money to do it."

To help solve the problem, Swissmedic recommended that institutions "train people specifically and make funds available for maintenance or also for constructive measures." Conde added that 84 percent of hospitals analysed outsource their maintenance to third parties, which she argues reduces efficiency and communication should an issue arise.

In concluding their statement, the monitor said that hospitals must remedy their shortcomings with speed. To make sure they do, Swissmedic announced they will be offering additional jobs at the agency so that they can carry out more inspections in the future - instead of the 5 to 10 percent of hospitals it currently analyses every year.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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