Antibiotic-resistant hospital infections kill 8,000 patients each year, according to a study conducted by Dr. Dick Zoutman at Kingston General Hospital.
That works out to 250,000 Canadians becoming sick from preventable infections every year.
Another study estimated the cost of MRSA alone to the healtcare system at $100 million annually.
Although it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of all hospital-acquired infections, some Canadian infection control experts have estimated it's as high as $1 billion annually.
With better infection spread control, for example, better handwashing, an estimated 30 to 50 per cent of infections would be preventable in Canadian hosptials.
Healthcare workers usually only wash their hands between five to 30 per cent of the time.
Proper hand washing varies depending on ward, job and working conditions. A study in Montreal found that occupational and physical therapists had the highest rate of compliance to MRSA hand washing guidelines, while nurses complied more often than doctors, cleaning staff and people visiting the hospital.
About as many Canadians die from antibiotic-resistant hospital infections than car accidents, AIDS and breast cancer put together.
A 2002 study found the most common hospital-acquired infections were: urinary tract infections, pneumonia, surgical infections, bacteremia and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (respectively). The study by the Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program and the Canadian Hospital Epidemiology Committee of Health Canada examined 29 acute care hospitals.
The same study found that patients in intensive care units were more likely to have additional hospital infections. Infection rates were lower for children than adults, and higher for infants than older children.
A Queen's University study released in 2003 of 172 hospitals found fewer than one infection control doctor per 250 beds.
Of the hospitals with infection spread control, only 60 per cent had training programs.
The Community and Hospital Infection Control Association Canada (CHICA) recommends three full time equivalent infection control professionals per 500 beds in acute care hospitals and one full time equivalent infection control professional per 150 to 250 beds in long term care facilities.