Ontario Hospital Association Statement on C. difficile Outbreaks

TORONTO, July 8, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacteria that can be naturally found in the intestines of 3-5% of adults. Some types of C. difficile can produce toxins that can make people ill. Although patients can acquire C. difficile while hospitalized, this can also occur outside of the hospital in the community.

A great deal of public attention has been focused on C. difficile and its presence in Ontario hospitals recently. While outbreaks of C. difficile are extremely unfortunate, they are not unheard of. According to Dr. Michael Gardam, a well-respected epidemiologist and researcher for the University of Health Network,

"All Ontario hospitals have been challenged with C. difficile for many years. Unfortunately there is no one simple way to prevent C. difficile outbreaks; however our experience with multiple Ontario hospitals has shown that while outbreaks may occur, they can also be reliably stopped through early identification and treatment, aggressive environmental cleaning, healthcare worker hand hygiene, and control of antibiotics."

It is also important to note that the number of reported outbreaks and cases of C. difficile can change rapidly as hospitals move quickly to get outbreak situations under control. Using the most accurate and up-to-date data is essential, and this information is best sought from local public health units and cross-checked with individual hospitals.

The spread of infections is something Ontario hospitals take extremely seriously, and they do everything they can, with the resources they have, to make patient safety their number one priority and to ensure effective infection prevention and control measures are in place.

While open debate about ways to improve health care are central to providing safer, higher quality care to patients, the discussion should always remain grounded in the facts, and focused on improving confidence in Ontario's health care system. We encourage everyone to bear this in mind when considering the current and future health care environment.