Nova Scotia Medical Errors: C- difficile Infections kill 4 in Cape Breton Hospitals

by John McKiggan

Cape Breton District Health Authority has stated that 21 patients in two Cape Breton Hospitals have tested positive for the bacteria C. difficile. Four people have died as a result of the infections.

Hospital Acquired Infections a Deadly Problem

Nosocomial infections (Hospital acquired infections) are the fourth largest killer in Canada.

This isn’t a new problem. Ontario’s Auditor General released a study three years highlighting the concerns about the increasing frequency and dangers of hospital acquired infections.

Thousands of Canadian Patients Die Each Year

Each year, 220,000 – 250,000 hospital acquired infections result in 8,000-12,000 deaths.

The two most common types of Hospital acquired infections are MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and C. Difficile.

C. Difficile Infections

C. Difficile is a bacteria spread by touching a surface or skin that is contaminated with fecal matter.

It appears the recent deaths are due to a new more virulent strain that has been found in Canadian hospitals over the last two years.

Hospital Infections are Preventable

The Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) estimates that over 2 million hospital acquired infections occur annually in the United States and are responsible for 90,000 deaths.

Not all these infections are the resut of negligence. But , Betsy McCaughy, the founder and chair of the non-profit patient safety organization Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, says that “the evidence is overwhelming that nearly all infections are preventable.”

The most shocking (or saddest fact) is that according to CUPE (the largest nurses union in Canada) thirty to fifty per cent of these hospital-acquired infections are preventable!

Hospital Infections Lead to Malpractice Claims

I am currently representing the family of a young man who died from an infection he developed after he was admitted to hospital. In the course of researching this case I learned that every year approximately seven percent of Canadian hospital admissions-an estimated 222,000 Canad­ians-pick up an infection while in hospital. About 8,000 of them die.

“How Can I Protect Myself?”

There are 3 things you can do to protect yourself Hospital Acquired Infections

1. Ask hospital staff to disinfect their hands before touching you. Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer in your room to make it easy for them. They are supposed to do this automatically, but studies have shown that only 40 per cent of health-care providers in Canada properly washing their hands.

3. Ask for hospital tubes to be removed shortly after surgery, or avoid having them when it’s possible. because they are invasive, I.V.’s or feeding tubes are a major source of infections.

4. Leave hospital as soon as you can to go home. Unfortunately, hospitals are dangerous places.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries that you think may be due to medical malpractice you can buy a copy of my book: The Consumer’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of Canadian Medical Malpractice Victims Never Receive a Penny in Compensation. on Amazon.

Or you can contact me through this blog or by calling toll free in Atlantic Canada 1-888-647-7201 and we will send you a copy, free, anywhere in the Maritimes.

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