“Managing outbreaks is a common challenge for hospitals everywhere, and we all share our learnings to enable us to improve our response,” says Frank Demizio, Niagara Health System (NHS) Vice President Patient Services. “I would like to thank the public for its support and co-operation with our infection prevention and control measures. I would also like to thank all of our staff and doctors for their teamwork and ongoing diligence and commitment. They routinely go above and beyond to ensure patients receive the best possible care while also managing the new norm of infection prevention and control measures.”
Under provincial legislation, a healthcare facility must declare an outbreak when there are a higher than normal number of new hospital-acquired cases of C. difficile in a specific unit over a 30-day period. When the C. difficile outbreak was declared on October 20, 2010, there were three confirmed cases of C. difficile on 2 West. An outbreak may be declared over when there are no new cases and the number of cases has returned to the baseline level.
Throughout the outbreak period, the NHS’s Infection Prevention and Control team worked closely with the larger NHS healthcare team as well as with Niagara Region Public Health and the Regional Infection Control Network.
“We have had one other C. difficile outbreak in the Niagara Health System, at the Greater Niagara General Site in 2008,” says Frank. “The lessons learned from that outbreak as well as our close working relationship with Niagara Region Public Health greatly assisted us in managing this outbreak and declaring it over in less than a month.”
C. difficile is a bacteria found in the stool. The usual symptoms are mild but can be severe. Main symptoms are watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain/tenderness. Blood may or may not be present in the stools. In some cases, there may not be diarrhea. In severe cases, surgery may be needed and in extreme cases C. difficile may cause death. While C. difficile can be acquired in hospital, it can also be acquired in the community.
Healthy people are usually not at risk of serious infection. However, these organisms can cause harm to those who are seriously ill or have a poor immune system. These organisms can be treated, but preventive action helps all patients and staff.
"Managing outbreaks is a common challenge for hospitals everywhere, and we all share our learnings to enable us to improve our response"
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