The grandson of a woman who contracted C. difficile says he is worried that more people are going to get sick at Eastern Health facilities.

Harry Tucker's grandmother, Christina Ballard, 90, died at the Health Sciences Centre on March 9. She had contracted the deadly bacteria, which is spread primarily through poor hygiene.

Tucker said he read a Eastern Health report on hand hygiene released on Monday, and he discovered that the compliance rate for proper hand washing in the department where his grandmother was staying was low.

"This is the thing that rubs me raw," said Tucker. "C. diff, the primary means of preventing C. diff from person to person is effective hygiene.

"In the department where my grandmother was kept, that report indicates that the compliance rate for proper hygiene was 33 per cent."

Eastern Health's report said proper handwashing practices among Eastern Health staff had dropped to an average rate of 51 per cent throughout its facilities. 

Grandmother went to hospital in January

Tucker said Ballard was admitted to hospital in January with an intestinal blockage. He said medical officials determined she needed surgery, but first she was given antibiotics to reduce inflammation.

Tucker said Ballard contracted C. difficile while she was undergoing antibiotic treatment. 

Tucker said his grandmother then became too weak for surgery, and she died without leaving the hospital.

Woman's cause of death not C. difficile

Eastern Health has said the cause of Ballard's death was not C. difficile, and Tucker admitted there was no evidence to draw a connection between his grandmother's death and her fight against the bacterial infection. 

However, Tucker said his grandmother's experience has proved that Eastern Health has to get its doctors, nurses and other staff to wash their hands more often.  

"That a potentially fatal disease or something that can contribute to a fatality is spread by poor hygiene, and a compliance rate for proper hygiene in her area was 33 per cent," he said.

"I think that speaks volumes in terms of the potential for other problems."