A hospital in Israel.
A hospital in Israel. Photo by Moti Milrod
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Israel saw a sharp rise in some antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria diagnosed in hospitals last year, according to a Health Ministry report released on Tuesday.

The report said that there was a 50 percent increase in antiobiotic-resistent E. coli infections in 2011, from 2010.

In all, according to the study, which was presented to the Knesset Health Committee, 6,176 patients suffered from all types of antibiotics-resistant infections while hospitalized in 2011. This only constituted an increase of 1 percent over the previous year.

The Health Ministry said it could not determine whether the patients had contracted the bateria in the hospital or prior to hospitalization.

Other bacteria identified as causing more infections in hospitals in 2011 than in 2010 were Acinetobacter (15.4 percent more ) and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (13 percent more ).

The report also compared infection rates in 24 hospitals, but these figures remain confidential, because hospitals conditioned their participation in the study on confidentiality.

The most common infection patients contracted in hospitals, according to researchers, was Clostridium difficile, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that attacks the intestines. In 2011, 2,120 patients contracted the bacteria - a rate of 43.9 infections per 100,000 hospitalization days. This was actually an 11.8 percent decrease from 2010.

A class of bacteria resistant to most antibiotics, known as CRE, were found to be 2.5 times more prevalent in Haifa hospitals (Rambam, Carmel and Bnei Zion Medical Centers ) than elsewhere in the country.

Acting chairwoman of the Knesset Health Committee, Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, who is a physician, said the main reason for infections in hospitals was the lack of proper protective infrastructure.

"It is inconceivable that in intensive care, the most infectious ward, patients are lying next to each other with only a thin curtain between them. Many patients come to the hospital already carrying infections." Adatto also said the public has the right to know the level of infections in hospitals where they are going for treatment.

Other MKs at the meeting also criticized the Health Ministry's decision not to release the information regarding the infection levels at specific hospitals.

Senior physicians spoke at the meeting about reducing overcrowding to lower the risk of infections.