Prague hospital Covid ward staff put on protective suits

Say bacteria clinging to their sleeves increase mortality

Medical staff treat a patient infected with Covid-19 at the General University Hospital in Prague on January 26, 2022. Photo: AFP

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Medical staff treat a patient infected with Covid-19 at the General University Hospital in Prague on January 26, 2022. Photo: AFP

Doctors treating Covid patients at a Prague hospital have ditched their once mandatory protective suits, saying bacteria clinging to their sleeves are actually increasing mortality.

Medical staff at the Covid ward at the General University Hospital in Prague now only wear face masks, gloves and plastic aprons as protective gear, despite the spread of the highly contagious variant of Omicron.

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“We abandoned the suits a year ago because they promoted the spread of bacteria, viruses and molds among patients, which worsened the overall mortality data,” Martin Balik told AFP on Wednesday. , head doctor of the intensive care unit.

Previously, doctors and nurses on the ward wore full protective suits with caps and plastic pants throughout their shifts.

They had to change completely when they went to the toilet or had lunch.

One of the main treatment centers in the Czech Republic for Covid patients, the hospital receives critical patients from small hospitals that do not have the necessary equipment to keep them alive.

“During the epidemic, we started bringing in patients with very resistant bacteria that we had not encountered before,” explained the head of the intensive care unit, Jan Blaha.

“At one point, patient mortality increased by 6-8%. When our staff were vaccinated or recovered from Covid, we stopped wearing the suits and the rate dropped,” Blaha said.

He added that the risk of contamination for staff was low because the vast majority of them are vaccinated.

Unlike many medical facilities, which prohibited patients from receiving visitors at the start of the pandemic, Prague University Hospital allowed visitors on Covid wards from the start of the pandemic.

Blaha said communication with family is crucial for doctors, who can explain what they are doing, and for patients as well.

“Of course, we perceive the influence of family and friends to be very important and it is clear that this also helps the treatment,” Blaha said.

The Czech Republic, an EU member of 10.7 million people, has recorded more than 2.83 million confirmed Covid cases with more than 37,000 deaths.

On Tuesday, the daily growth rate of infections reached nearly 40,000, a new record, with Omicron being the dominant strain.

Berta D. Wells