Toronto The Ontario government can do more to protect patients from the threat of superbugs like C. difficile by requiring mandatory reporting of all infectious disease outbreaks at Ontario hospitals, said Michael Hurley, the president of CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE/OCHU) at a Queens Park media conference today.
Hospital-acquired infection is the 4th leading cause of death in Canada.
Hurley said that, unless the McGuinty government begins a mandatory reporting system for hospital-acquired infections, CUPE will set up a province-wide hotline for patients, family members and hospital staff to report outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Despite the increasing threat, superbugs like MRSA and C. difficile pose to hospital patients, their family members, and hospital workers across Ontario, the provincial government has been dismissive of a mandatory reporting system for hospital acquired infections, and the government has set in motion thousands of staff cuts that will impact on patient safety, said Hurley.
Mandatory reporting, which is required in five U.S. states (with at least another 30 considering legislation), would provide patients with the rate of hospital-acquired infection at a hospital or long-term care facility. It would also give important information on how widespread a problem infectious diseases are in hospitals, and where funding and human resources should be increased. System-wide reporting would allow the province to set benchmarks and measure the progress being made to curb infection rates.
In addition, Hurley called on the government to adequately fund hospitals in order to stop the nearly 10,000 layoffs (including pending cuts to cleaners, nurses and other employees essential to infection control) that Ontarios hospitals say they will need to make to balance their budgets for 2006.
Front line hospital workers are the backbone of infection control. This government must recognize that less staff to disinfect and clean hospitals will open the door to increased hospital infection rates, said Hurley.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) - (416) 884-0770
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774