Compared to their European counterparts, patients at Greek public hospitals are twice as likely to contract a life-threatening infection because of cutbacks and understaffing, the union of state hospital workers (POEDIN) warned yesterday. Speaking to the press, POEDIN president Michalis Giannakos said that patients “are losing the battle for life every single day because hospitals have become germ-infested.” “It is estimated that more than 4 million patients contract hospital infections in the European Union every year, with resulting deaths believed to stand at some 37,000,” the POEDIN chief said. “Morbidity from hospital infections in the European Union affects 5 percent of admissions. In Greece, an average of 15 percent of patients admitted to public hospitals get infections, with fatalities coming to 30 percent of that number, compared to 15 percent in the EU.” Giannakos pointed to cutbacks in healthcare as the main culprit behind the high rate of hospital infections. Staff shortages also mean that new admissions may be placed on beds that have not been disinfected, a problem that has also been reported in regard to equipment at intensive care units and operating theaters.