Friday, July 4, 2008

Secretive Liberals hide from C. diff accountability

Naomi Powell and Joan Walters wrote in “463 C. DIFF. DEATHS, 22 HOSPITALS, 2 YEARS”, (Hamilton Spectator, July 4, 2008):

"Figures from a fraction of Ontario hospitals hint at how enormous the scope of lethal superbug outbreaks may turn out to be .

At least 460 patients infected with the lethal superbug C. difficile have died in Ontario hospitals over the past 30 months.

A tally by The Spectator shows that 463 infected patients died at just 22 of Ontario's 157 hospitals. The deaths occurred between January 2006 and May 2008.

New figures compiled by the newspaper show C. diff has assaulted more hospitals and claimed more lives than previously known.

Health Minister David Caplan, who replaced George Smitherman last month, has said the government has no plans to call an inquiry.

Families and opposition politicians have criticized the Liberals for failing to take more aggressive action since a lethal strain of C. diff arrived in Ontario in 2006.

Conservative Leader John Tory said yesterday the rising deaths reconfirm the need for a probe into the full scope of C. diff.

Both Burlington's Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital and Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital have been hard hit by C. diff. In Burlington, 91 patients infected with the bacterium died, 62 of them directly from the bug. In Barrie, 51 infected patients died, 24 directly as a result of C. diff.

No one in the provincial government has ever tabulated the full number of deaths from the bug.
Ontario's chief medical officer of health has so far been able to confirm only 22 outbreaks in 19 hospitals from November 2006 to May 2008, but does not know the number who died in those incidents.

Experts such as infection specialist Dr. Michael Gardam have said The Spectator's ongoing tally of C. diff cases is only the tip of the iceberg.

Some hospitals have not declared outbreaks, but have reported significant numbers of deaths.

[click on chart to enlarge]

Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital says 27 patients infected with C. diff died from January 2007 to April 2008. C. diff was cited as a factor in 17 of the deaths.

Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor had 37 deaths from C. diff from April 2006 to March 2008.

Data on C. diff prevalence in Ontario is scant because the superbug has never been a reportable disease. C. diff has been blamed for 2,000 deaths in Quebec.

Hospitals use a variety of methods to collect information on C. diff and to decide whether an official outbreak should be declared. That all changes Sept. 30 when mandatory reporting begins.

Dr. Michael Baker, the Ontario patient safety adviser in charge of designing the reporting system, says there will be a standard definition for what constitutes an outbreak. But there is no intention to require hospitals to report deaths.

Baker says that's because determining whether C. diff caused or contributed to a death is a complicated procedure that relies on the individual judgment of the expert looking at the case.
Hospitals like Jo Brant and Royal Victoria have called in outside specialists to look back through charts to determine which cases were directly linked to C. diff.

Baker, physician-in-chief of Toronto's University Hospital Network, says he is "aware of the difficulty in making that judgment" and does not believe requiring hospitals to report deaths would be productive.

Few of Ontario's hospitals have gone through a chart examination to determine numbers of deaths. However, as public concern escalates, many hospitals are voluntarily tabulating their fatalities.

The Spectator's previous C. diff tally showed 264 deaths at seven hospitals since 2006.

In the chart , 22 institutions have voluntarily disclosed the number of patients infected with C. diff who died in their hospitals since 2006.

Not all hospitals had complete data, and some hospitals reported data for only a short timeframe, such as during an official outbreak. The majority of the deaths have been linked directly to the disease, but some patients died of other factors while infected.

The Spectator surveyed an additional eight hospitals that either reported no deaths or had insufficient data. They are not counted.”


So: now 463 C.diff deaths (that are known at this point) have occurred in Ontario under McGuinty’s secretive Liberals.

Can St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley confirm these figures?
Can Bradley answer whether the NHS (Niagara Health System) has also "gone through a chart examination to determine the number of deaths" over the last two years caused by C. diff? Will Bradley ask for that information? Will the NHS 'voluntarily tabulate its C. diff fatalities'?

When the Hamilton Spectator wrote “Some hospitals have not declared outbreaks, but have reported significant numbers of deaths”, once again, I was reminded of the CIHI study in Nov. of 2007 which revealed that the St. Catharines hospital, part of the Niagara Health System, had the third-highest patient death-rate in Canada.

Despite writing to my MPP, St. Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley, several times on this very issue...

(see: Health care and Ontario's arrogant, irresponsive Liberals, sent to Bradley Jan.3, 2008)

(see: Medicare's secretive death rates and Liberal unaccountability, sent to Bradley Jan.7, 2008)

(see: Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada, sent to Bradley Jan.8, 2008)

(see: Liberals ignore high Niagara hospital death-rates, sent to Bradley Jan.9, 2008)

...asking Niagara's local  Liberal hack Bradley for clarification; yet, a smug and arrogant Jim Bradley has refused to answer any of my concerns.

The Liberals cooked up some kind of red-herring “governance review’’ of the NHS (see: Liberal health-care action: reviewing the reviews), yet no-one has said a word since about Niagara’s high hospital mortality-rate!! This death-rate story was swept under the proverbial rug by the Ontario Liberals and their media friends.

Were any of these CIHI-uncovered deaths in Niagara related to C. diff??
Do we really know how many C. diff deaths occurred in Niagara – was anyone keeping track?
How can we find out, when the local Liberal hack MPP, Jim Bradley, ignores the issue and refuses to talk about it?

It is astounding that no Ontario Liberal has yet publicly explained the causes of CIHI’s St. Catharines death-rate findings.
****{Update: as of Oct. 2015 - some 7 years after this article was written - St. Catharines Liberal hack Jim Bradley STILL HAS NOT explained the reasons for the hundreds of deaths under his Liberal watch. Apparently, no newspaper in Canada has yet bothered to interview St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley on this subject}****

Former Liberal health minister George Smitherman even said that there was a spending free-for-all going on in Niagara’s hospital system! (See: Liberals claim medicare is a "free-for-all": so they cut hospital beds and nurses! , Apr.10, 2008; also, see: Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation , Jan.12, 2008)

There is scant little in the local Niagara press mentioning Jim Bradley and his Liberal health-care system - no comments, no questions, no explanations; it's as if the elusive Jim Bradley has vanished into a media-enabled Cone of Silence on this issue.

Perhaps the Hamilton Spectator can also look into the situation in Niagara.

Worried, secretive Liberals have stonewalled the Ombudsman; I had asked Jim Bradley, in a letter sent to him on Dec.31, 2007, to allow the Ombudsman to investigate the Liberal’s health-monopoly (see: Ombudsman must investigate Liberal health monopoly ).

On Jun.18, 2008 I sent Bradley a letter asking that the Ombudsman be allowed to investigate the MUSH sector – including the Liberal-run health system. (see: Time to investigate Liberal health-care system: Stale Smitherman should resign.)

I repeated my call for an Ombudsman investigation in a letter sent to Bradley on Jun.27, 2008 (see: McGuinty's Liberal health-care gulag) and also in a letter sent to Bradley on July 2, 2008 (see: An Ombudsman 'C. diff' investigation would be kryptonite for McGuinty's Liberals)

Jim Bradley, the thirty-year MPP and supposed populist political-savant, has said nothing at all about the C. diff outbreak which has transpired under his Liberal's rule, right in his Niagara backyard.

Jim Bradley has ignored any inquiries about this issue which I have brought to his attention.

How can we hold these arrogant Liberals to account? By indicting them?

Are Ontario hospitals even safe between now and September 30? And what then - will "mandatory reporting" somehow put an end to further outbreaks?! Or are there other reasons behind this outbreak which the Liberals don't want the public to know about?

How are we supposed to find out what's going on in this Liberal health-care monopoly?

What are Jim Bradley and his secretive Liberals hiding?

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