6/25/11

Niagara hospital kept superbug deaths quiet: MPP calls for government investigation

Bullet News in Niagara reports that 
Niagara Health System (NHS) officials kept quiet the deaths of five C. difficile patients at hospitals in Niagara Falls and Welland, even as they struggled to bring under control an official outbreak at St. Catharines General where 10 elderly patients have died in less than four weeks.
The Bullet adds that as late as Friday afternoon, NHS officials had made no mention of the deaths of four C. difficile patients at Greater Niagara General hospital and one at Welland County General hospital between May 12 and June 16.  The deaths were revealed later Friday – a full day after official outbreaks were declared at the Welland and Niagara Falls hospitals – by way of a single sentence at the bottom of a notice posted on the health system’s website.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, who said he intends to contact Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews over the weekend to ask her to launch an investigation. “This warrants a complete investigation of the management of the NHS,” said Craitor, who learned of the deaths when contacted by a Bullet News reporter Friday evening.
“This is huge. They’re hiding deaths.”
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati went even further. Diodati, a vocal critic of NHS restructuring, said he lost all confidence in the ability of NHS to manage the outbreaks gripping Niagara’s three largest acute-care hospitals.  Diodati said said he thinks it’s time for the province to appoint a hospital supervisor.
For its part the Hospital told Bullet News that there’s no reason to believe the outbreaks are related, or that the results have been caused by  cross contamination of sites due to patients transfers.  “These are three separate outbreaks and there’s no evidence to suggest they’re linked at this time.”
OCHU has long called for the province to require hospitals to report superbug deaths.

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