Posted by Sudbury Northern Life Reporter Laurel Myers
Health care-associated infections are an unwelcome reality in modern health care settings across the globe, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website. Prevention and control of these infections in hospitals is a priority for Ontario and is key to keeping patients safe.
On May 28, 2008, the government announced an eight-point public reporting program for hospitals in Ontario. The Ministry and Ontario hospitals have since begun posting information about some hospital-acquired illnesses on its websites, including Clostridium Difficile Associated Disease (C. Difficile or CDAD), Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcis (VRE). In addition, the Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR) is also being reported publicly.
As of April 30 of this year, the rates for four additional hospital-acquired infections will be added to the public reporting system - Central-Line Primary Blood Stream Infection (CLI), Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP), Surgical Site Infection Prevention and Hand Hygiene Compliance.
Dr. Michael Baker, provincial lead for patient safety and quality for the ministry, was in Sudbury recently to meet with staff at the Sudbury Regional Hospital (HRSRH) St. Joeseph's site, to discuss the latest on patient safety.
"We're going to report on two infections that occur in the Intensive Care Unit, including infections in the plastic lines we use, and infections that occur in the lungs in patients on ventilators," Baker explained. "In addition, we're going to ask operating rooms that do (joint) replacements, to report on the frequency with which they comply with infusing antibiotics an hour before the operation, to reduce the infection rate that occurs in wounds after those operations.
"Lastly, ... we're asking every hospital to report on an audit of how frequently, we wash our hands ... before and after every patient contact."
The rates of the three hospital-acquired infections will be reported on a quarterly basis, while hand hygiene compliance will be reported annually.
For CLI, VAP, and SSI, Baker said he is expecting the rates to be relatively low.
"It's a highly trained staff that, for some period of time, devoted a lot of energy to this. They're dangerous infections, but I believe we'll probably show we've managed these down."
However, he said he expects a low percentage of compliance for hand hygiene.
"We're setting a very high standard. We will only approve an interaction when every single time a doctor, nurse or technician cleans their hands with the proper alcohol rub every single time they go in and out of every single patient room, sometimes hundreds of times a day.
"I think we'll see less than perfect performance there and I won't be surprised by that ... I expect that will improve as time goes by."
Dr. David McNeil, vice-president clinical programs and chief nursing officer at the HRSRH, said "all indications are that we do have a good system (of infection control practices) in place and that our rates are in and around the provincial rates.
"On April 30, you will see the balance of indicators being reported and we're confident you'll see we're doing just as well."
Detailed patient safety indicator reporting is available through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website at www.ontario.ca/patientsafety .