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Patient safety

Ontario to report patient safety indicators online

TORONTO – The Ontario government is introducing full public reporting on eight patient safety indicators – including Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) – as part of a comprehensive plan to create an unprecedented level of transparency in Ontario’s hospitals.

On September 30, 2008, all Ontario hospitals will be required to publicly report on C. difficile rates in their facilities through a public website.

As part of this comprehensive initiative, Dr. Michael Baker, physician-in-chief at the University Health Network, is being appointed Executive Lead – Patient Safety, to oversee the government’s patient safety agenda. He will build upon initiatives already taken, such as the hospital hand hygiene program.

The list of patient safety indicators is:

• Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), Sept. 30, 2008 (Start Date of Public Reporting)

• Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Dec. 31, 2008

• Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), Dec. 31, 2008

• Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR) – mortality rates, Dec.31, 2008

• Rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia, April 30, 2009

• Rates of central line infections, April 30, 2009

• Rates of Surgical site infections, April 30, 2009

• Hand hygiene compliance among health care workers, April 30, 2009

Hospitals will also be required to immediately report C. difficile outbreaks to their local public health units, so that Medical Officers of Health have the information they need to monitor and respond to emergent outbreaks.

“The new reporting framework reflects our commitment to uphold the highest standards of care for Ontario’s patients,” said George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Transparency may not always provide us with the news we want to hear, but it leads to the actions we all need to take to combat the risks of infection.”

“This is very important – we need to let the public know how our hospitals are performing,” said Dr. Michael Baker. “We can then measure our progress in improving safety standards. This announcement on reporting places us among the leaders of patient safety in hospitals across the country.”

“Ontario’s hospitals are committed to providing the safest possible care to patients,” said Tom Closson, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association. “We strongly support the public reporting of patient safety indicators because we believe it will inspire improved performance, enhance patient safety, and strengthen the public’s confidence in Ontario’s hospitals.”

• C. difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions.

• C. difficile is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients in the industrialized world.

• The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile diarrhea as it alters the normal level of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon.

• Good hand hygiene is the single-most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like C. difficile.