Up until this year, only hospital administrators and infection control specialists knew the rates of hospital-acquired infections. The public release of key hospital data follows a Star investigation into medical secrecy.
Anthony Dale, the Ontario Hospital Association's vice-president of policy and public affairs, said publicly reporting patient safety indicators are "absolutely essential to driving improved performance over time" in individual hospitals. Releasing numbers to the public is an extra incentive for hospital administrators, particularly hospital boards, to do better, he said.
At present, there are two outbreaks of C. difficile in the province – one at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and one at the Greater Niagara General Hospital. An Infection Control Resource Team, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Health in September, is already at Oakville Trafalgar to help control the outbreak, and the Greater Niagara General has just asked for one to be deployed, said Baker.
Outbreaks of C. difficile in Quebec led to an estimated 2,000 deaths earlier this decade. And more than 90 patients infected with C. difficile died at Burlington's Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital from May 2006 to December 2007.
In general, antibiotic-resistant infections, including C. difficile, MRSA and VRE, are on the rise around the world in part due to the overuse of antibiotics.
Even though Ontario's rates are lower than those in the U.S. and U.K., there is much more Ontario can do to manage antibiotic-resistant infections, said Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"Sixty-one patients is still many more patients with serious MRSA bacteraemia infections in Ontario hospitals than all of us would like to see," she said.
The number of VRE bacteraemia infections is actually higher this year than it has been in previous years, she said.Here's the site where you can check the infection rates.