Skip to main content

Five Ontario hospitals abandon fight against superbug

Some Ontario hospitals are giving up on trying to control the superbug VRE. No doubt the hospitals are responding to the government funding squeeze on hospitals. Below, infection control experts offer a tart warning of the consequences of this policy.

We've been downs a similar road before: past cuts to hospital cleaning (and hospital beds) helped lead to the explosion in superbug infections in recent years. In the period ahead we will see more and more examples of how hospital cuts will affect patient care. 

Local hospitals isolate, others relax about super bug 
Hamilton Spectator 
Fri Sep 7 2012 
Page: A16 
Section: Editorial 
Byline: Allison McGeer, MD, Kevin Katz, MD, Mary Vearncombe, MD, Toronto 

'Big and dumb' VRE not the worry it was: Local hospitals isolate, others relax about super bug (Aug. 30)

As directors of infection prevention programs at Toronto hospitals, we are always happy to see thoughtful discussion of the issues surrounding hospital-acquired infection. We also worry about the risks associated with underestimating the damage and heartbreak that hospital infections cause.

VRE may be big and dumb, but it kills one of every 200 patients it affects. In hospitals that don't control VRE, as many as one-third of patients with acute blood cancers develop VRE bloodstream infections. Allowing this "superbug" to spread in our hospitals harms patients and increases the costs of health care.

It is true that five of 155 hospitals in Ontario have given up on trying to control VRE because their control programs were seen to be expensive and weren't working well. However, residents of Hamilton should be proud of their hospitals' programs. The ongoing success of the Hamilton VRE control program means that we should not be criticizing Hamilton hospitals, but rather asking what they are doing right that some other hospitals could learn from.

Allison McGeer, MD, Kevin Katz, MD, Mary Vearncombe, MD, Toronto


Popular posts from this blog

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 …

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…

Six more problems with Public Private Partnerships (P3s)

The Auditor General (AG) has again identified issues in her annual reportwhich reflect problems with Ontario health care capacity and privatization.   First, here are six key problems with the maintenance of the 16 privatized P3 ("public private partnership") hospitals in Ontario:
There are long-term ongoing disputes with privatized P3 contractors over the P3 agreements, including about what is covered by the P3  (or “AFP” as the government likes to call them) contract.The hospitals are required to pay higher than reasonable rates tothe P3 contractor for  maintenance work the contractor has deemed to be outside of the P3 contract. Hospitals are almost forced to use P3 contractors to do maintenance work the contractors deem outside of the P3 contract or face the prospect of transferring the risk associated with maintaining the related hospital assets from the private-sector company back to the hospitalP3 companies with poor perf…