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The Ottawa Hospital launches SWAT teams to improve infection control

January 23, 2013 – The Ottawa Hospital is responding to a steady increase in hospital-acquired cases of C. difficile infections by deploying “SWAT teams” of clinical, housekeeping and infection-control staff to ensure that the highest standards of cleanliness are maintained. These rapid-response teams are charged with overseeing the disinfection, de-cluttering and repair of areas within an outbreak zone to reduce infection risk.

As part of an ongoing effort to achieve a gold standard of infection surveillance and control, the hospital has formalized a process for rapid response to any C. difficile cases, before an outbreak occurs. An extra layer of quality control has also been added to ensure that all of these enhanced infection-control practices are followed.

These new efforts are in addition to the hospital’s commitment to hand hygiene and environmental cleanliness, which remain the best practices for infection control and prevention.

The latest publicly reported C. difficile rate for December 2012 is 0.94 cases per 1,000 patient days, which translates to 15 cases at the General campus and 12 cases at the Civic campus. That’s up from 0.56 cases per 1,000 patient days in April 2012, when the rate started rising. The General currently has one unit on outbreak, defined as five or more cases within a month. To date in January, the General has four new C. difficile cases and the Civic has two.

C. difficile is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea acquired in health-care settings.

The Ottawa Hospital remains committed to the highest standards of patient safety and is leading the way in defining a gold standard of infection control and surveillance for Ontario hospitals.