Combating healthcare associated infections along the German-Dutch border

EurSafety Health-net, a cross border project between Germany and the Netherlands, has been crucial in preventing healthcare-associated infections (HCAI), which together with MRSA are a significant infectious disease threat across the European Union.

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Awarding 49 acute care hospitals with the EurSafety Quality&Transparancy Certificate in the Ems-Dollart Regio; Oldenburg, August 2013. Awarding 49 acute care hospitals with the EurSafety Quality&Transparancy Certificate in the Ems-Dollart Regio; Oldenburg, August 2013.

The rate of antimicrobial resistance has tended to differ greatly between countries in Europe, reflecting different infection prevention policies. As a result, barriers to cross-border patient healthcare have been created. This was certainly the case in Germany, where studies show that MRSA infection was up to 32 times higher than in the Netherlands. 

Infection rates down by nearly 50 %

Cross-border actions under EurSafety Health-net were able to reduce this rate significantly, with healthcare professionals now saying that measurable prevention measures have increased about 37% and the rate of infection has nearly halved over a five-year period.

To reach this point, the project team established a German-Dutch healthcare quality network across the entire Dutch-German border. Training of medical staff in infection prevention and use of antibiotics was achieved by setting up advanced training units.

Public awareness activities – including a schools programme across the entire German-Dutch border area and in Belgium - were rolled-out and focused on preventing infections and improving patient safety.

Cross-border healthcare is key

The close collaboration between Dutch and German authorities has improved both patient safety and the quality of medical care on both sides of the border. To certify quality standards, participating hospitals have been awarded the ‘EurSafety Certificate for Quality & Transparency’. By allowing healthcare facilities to be accessed on both sides of the border without differences in standards for patient safety, EurSafety Health-net creates better medical care and choice, reduced costs and cross border patient mobility.

EurSafety Health-net was awarded the “Landesgesundheitspreis NRW” in 2012 for its structural improvements to healthcare in the border region. It was also presented as a flagship-project in a short film at the launch of the European Cooperation Day 2013 that took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The project is expected to directly create 17 new jobs in the collaborating institutions with a further 129 jobs foreseen in participating hospitals. 

The cross border collaboration within EurSafety Health-net improves patient safety through the mutual exchange of knowledge and know-how between all involved partners. The project opens the border for high quality cross-border healthcare and has the potential to become the nucleus for future European healthcare planning.

Prof. Dr. Alex W. Friedrich - Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “EurSafety Health-net – Euregional Network for Patient Safety and Infection Control” is EUR 8 100 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 4 050 000 through the “Netherlands – Germany" Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. 

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