10/26/11

$50 million superbug law suit claims hospital not properly cleaned

A $50-million class action lawsuit has been certified over a deadly outbreak of C. Difficile at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington, the Hamilton Spectator  reports.

"That's a positive step in the process," said Hamilton lawyer Stanley M. Tick, who represents the claimants with Windsor lawyer Harvey Strosberg.

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital was not properly cleaned, maintained and disinfected. None of the allegations have been proved in court. The Spectator notes that "in the years since the outbreak, the hospital has significantly changed procedures and cleaning protocols, invested heavily in infection control, and made other changes recommended by experts."

The superbug overran the hospital from May 2006 to December 2007. But the full extent of the infection was not known, or made public, until the spring of 2008, after a review by expert outsiders.  The hospital announced that 91 infected people had died. About 225 caught C. Difficile. In late 2008, Ontario instituted mandatory public reporting of hospital infections, including C. difficile. 

OCHU/CUPE has for many years campaigned for better superbug public reporting, an end to privatization of hospital housekeeping,  and better resources for hospital housekeeping.  It has also warned that law suiits would result.  Despite this, little was done for years.   

No date has been set for the next stage of the suit.

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