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Basic hygiene at risk in debt-stricken Greek hospitals

Published on Dec 5, 2012 6:30 AM

LONDON (REUTERS) - Greek hospitals are in such dire straits that staff are failing to keep up basic disease controls such as using gloves and gowns, threatening a rise in multi-drug-resistant infections, according to Europe's top health official.

Greece already has one of the worst problems in Europe with hospital-acquired infections, and disease experts fear this is being made worse by an economic crisis that has cut health care staffing levels and hurt standards of care.

With fewer doctors and nurses to look after more patients, and hospitals running low on cash for supplies, risks are being taken even with basic hygiene, said Mr Marc Sprenger, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

"I have seen places... where the financial situation did not allow even for basic requirements like gloves, gowns and alcohol wipes," Mr Sprenger said after a two-day trip to Athens, where he visited hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

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