Marc Sprenger, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said the survey confirmed hospital-acquired infections pose a major public health problem and a threat to European patients.
"Many of these infections could be prevented by sustained, multifaceted infection prevention and control programs, including surveillance of healthcare-associated infections," Sprenger said in a statement.
"Such programs, as well as prudent use of antibiotics, will help all actors involved to protect the patients of European hospitals."
Hospital-associated infections are those acquired by patients during their stay in a hospital or other healthcare setting -- some can be treated easily, but others might more seriously affect a patient's health, increasing their stay in the hospital, requiring further surgical intervention or prolonged treatment with anti-microbials and causing considerable distress to these patients.
Paola Testori Coggi of the European Commission said the prevalence is worrying and increased efforts are needed at local, national and European levels to prevent such infections for the safety of patients.
The European Commission is actively monitoring the situation with the support of the ECDC and works in cooperation with member states to implement the 2009 Council Recommendation on Patient Safety.
The prevalence of hospital-associated infections was the highest among patients admitted to intensive care units in these hospitals, where 19.5 percent patients had at least one.
The most common types of these infections in these intensive care units were respiratory tract infections and bloodstream infections. The most commonly reported types were respiratory tract infections at about 19 percent, surgical site infections at about 19 percent and urinary tract infections at about 19 percent, the survey found.