Superbug crisis lurking in Australian hospitals

Without urgent action, people could die from common infections and minor wounds.

The problem is so serious that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global superbug emergency in a 114-country report released on Thursday.

Although Australia has relatively low superbug levels and has good antibiotic regulation and reporting, the WHO says it is one of 10 countries with untreatable gonorrhoea.

And the government prescribing body NPS MedicineWise wants antibiotic use slashed by a quarter in five years to bring Australia in line with other OECD countries.

Another problem is hospital hygiene.

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday shows most doctors at most hospitals are failing to disinfect their hands before seeing patients.

"The WHO report reminds us that hand hygiene by all healthcare workers will reduce the spread of infections and therefore reduce the need for people to take