Hospital pays superbug settlement (after cutting housekeeping)

Patients and family members have settled their lawsuit over a superbug infection at a Quebec hospital.

At a coroner's inquiry into the outbreak, the hospital's unionized workers said the outbreak should be blamed on staffing problems that worsened after the institution cut four cleaning jobs. As a result of staffing shortages, patients' rooms were only disinfected during the week and bathrooms in the ER were cleaned just once a day.

Dr. Anne Vibien,on staff at the hospital in St-Hyacinthe in 2006 told the inquest that a strict plan drawn up by administrators to increase disinfection procedures was never enacted because of staff shortages.  Rooms were not disinfected often enough, she added. Toilets in the emergency room were cleaned just once a day.

Sixteen patients died.  The hospital has admitted there were problems with the cleaning procedure but claimed there were no direct links to the outbreak.  

The families of patients who died after contracting C. difficile at a Quebec hospital in 2006 will each receive about $25,000 in compensation, the CBC reports. Patients who survived will receive a smaller amount. 

The lawyer representing the victims says the agreement is an important step forward, but that the province is still not doing enough to fight infections in hospitals to prevent similar outbreaks.

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