Thousands of Canadians dying from hospital-acquired bugs
Tom Blackwell, posted at
www.nationalpost.com, Jan. 20, 2015
Two hospitals in Toronto and one in Quebec,
for instance, announced independently in the late 2000s that they had
discovered contaminated sinks were the source of separate, deadly outbreaks
Some word of the episodes got out through
specialized medical journal articles, academic conferences and sporadic news
stories. But there is no systematic way of disseminating such information
across the system, said Darrell Horn, a former patient-safety investigator
for the Winnipeg Region Health Authority.
"You could sit and call every hospital in the
country, and ask them when was the last time they cleaned the sink in the
(neonatal intensive care unit) and how they cleaned it, and you'd get
nothing but blank stares," he said.
Health care is paying much more attention, at
least, to the hospital-acquired infection (HAI) problem than it did a decade
ago, said Dr. Michael Gardam, infection-control director at Toronto's
University Health Network.
While not every surgical infection is preventable, "they can be dramatically
minimized", Gardam said.
Some provinces, such as Ontario and British
Columbia, require hospitals to report to the government on a few common
infections, such as C. difficile, blood infections transmitted by the
"central lines" used to access major blood vessels, and pneumonia from
ventilator use. Ontario hospitals must report their compliance with tactics
designed to prevent surgical infections, though not the infections
Experts debate whether publicly reporting data
actually benefits health care, but a 2012 study found that C. difficile
rates in Ontario hospitals dropped by 25 per cent after the province started
divulging statistics on the disease.