7/19/11

"We know outbreaks cost us more than prevention" -- Superbug expert

Some comments from Dr. Allison McGeer, infectious disease expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, for the St. Catharines Standard: 

"Prevention isn't inexpensive" ....There is also a deeper philosophical problem with public health care spending policies... It's possible to hire more cleaners, more supervisors and build better hospitals that will reduce infection rates and prevent outbreaks. But that doesn't give politicians anything tangible to grasp. The question will inevitably be asked: "Why are we spending so much money on prevention if infection rates are low?"

"Yet we know outbreaks cost us more than prevention," McGeer said. "But we have to be willing to make the investment."


Brantford General Hospital estimates "it can cost the hospital from $30,000 to $50,000 to treat a case of C. difficile, what with the protocols kicking into gear, heightened cleaning and patient transfers."


Dr. Doug Sider, infection control director at Public Health Ontario, also told the Standard that C. difficile is under-reported

Sider has long believed that there are actually more cases of C. difficile in Ontario than health officials are aware of, and improving technology is starting to confirm his suspicion. Improved diagnostic tests are more sensitive and accurate than previous methods, he said, and are able to better identify C. difficile infections."So this may be the result of more sensitive diagnostic tests capturing more cases."

The story also confirms that Health Minister Deb Matthews has declined to increase funding to respond to the outbreaks.  

While infection control experts like McGeer say that investments in prevention are the key to reducing infection rates and, ultimately, outbreaks, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews said this week that a boost in hospital funding is unlikely.  During a press conference in Toronto Thursday, Matthews said hospital funding is adequate and had increased during the life of the current government. How that money is spent is up to individual hospital systems. (My emphasis -- Doug)

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