Staff Correspondent

`There is need to impose restrictions on the number of visitors at hospitals'

ObservationsIn countries such as India, it is considered a social obligation to visit a hospitalised person This increases the chances of patients and visitors contracting infections There are many other ways of expressing concern

MYSORE: Next time you plan to visit someone recuperating in a hospital, think twice. For, there is a high chance of you or the patient developing an infection.

In countries such as India, where it is considered a social obligation to visit a hospitalised person, the chances of contracting infections are high for both patients and visitors. Relatives and friends often crowd lobbies and corridors during visiting hours, making it difficult for the hospital administration.

Nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections occur worldwide. They are among the major causes of increased morbidity among hospitalised patients, and a major threat to patient and public health.

Anjali Arun, chief pathologist at Vikram Hospital and Heart Care, said that sympathy and concern could be conveyed in several other ways, thanks to the rapid developement in communication tools.

"Communication can be carried out on mobile phones through SMS messages or by sending "get well" cards," she said.

Children should be kept out of the hospitals in the interests of the recuperating patient, she said.

At present, there are no consolidated figures to assess the incidence of nosocomial infections in the country. But a prevalence survey conducted by the World Health Organisation in 55 hospitals across 14 countries in Europe, Easter Mediterranean, South East Asia and Western Pacific showed that an average of 8.7 per cent of hospital patients had nosocomial infections.

It said that at any point of time, over 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infectious complications acquired in hospitals. Dr. Arun said that no study had been carried out in Western countries regarding the association of visitors with hospital-acquired infections, for there would be no visitors other than the immediate family members. Unfortunately, restrictions on visitors in hospitals were interpreted as an unfriendly policy in India, she said.

Hospitals imposed restrictions on the number of visitors and visiting hours so that the premises could be cleaned immediately after the visiting hours, she said.

Hospitals could take specific measures to prevent such infections from the designing stage itself. They could reduce traffic in patient-care areas and maintain the premises clean, she added.