Skip to main content

Deaths associated with C. difficile sharply underestimated

A new report indicates that C. difficile is linked in hospital records to more than 30,000 deaths a year in the United States.

That's about twice as many as federal US estimates and rivals the 32,000 killed in traffic accidents in the US.

USA Today reports that in March, the Centre for Disease Control indicated that the infection kills 14,000 people a year.

"But that estimate is based on death certificates, which often don't list the infection when patients die from complications, such as kidney failure. Hospital billing data collected by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows that more than 9% of C. diff-related hospitalizations end in death — nearly five times the rate for other hospital stays. That adds up to more than 30,000 fatalities among the 347,000 C. diff hospitalizations in 2010."

OCHU successfully campaigned for public reporting of hospital acquired infections like C. difficile, but the Ontario government has simply refused OCHU's recommendation that the number of deaths associated with hospital acquired infections be reported as well. 

Without that data, it is impossible to tell the number of deaths in Ontario.  If it is proportionate to the US number on a population basis, the number of hospital deaths associated with C. difficile would be in the 1,250 range annually.

The newspaper also reports two other items that are likely relevant to the sharp increase in C. difficile in hospitals:

  •  "Hospitals have cut housekeeping budgets up to 25% in recent years, according to the Association for the Healthcare Environment, an arm of the American Hospital Association. And the group's surveys show that many hospitals spend as little as 18 minutes cleaning a patient's room. That's well below the 25-30 minutes the group's studies have identified as optimal."
  • In 2003, "the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates hospital disinfectants, learned that none of its approved products actually killed C. diff spores — though many claimed on their labels that they were effective against the bacteria. Five years passed, with C. diff rates skyrocketing, before the agency ordered manufacturers to remove the claims and began to identify new disinfectants that work."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.





Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 


No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

More spending on new hospitals and new beds? Nope

Hospital funding:  There is something off about the provincial government's Budget claims on hospital capital funding (funding to build and renovate hospital beds and facilities).   

For what it is worth (which is not that much, given the long time frame the government cites), the province claims it will increase hospital capital spending over the next 10 years from $11 billion to $20 billion – or on average to about $2 billion per year.  But, this is just a notional increase from the previous announcement of future hospital capital spending. 

Moreover, even if we did take this as a serious promise and not just a wisp of smoke, the government's own reports shows they have actually funded hospital infrastructure about $3 billion a year over the 2011/12-2015/16 period.

So this “increase” is really a decrease from past actual spending. Even last year's (2016-17) hospital capital funding increase was reported in this Budget at $2.3 billion - i.e. about 15% more than they have ann…

Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …