lab test c. difficile

New screening methods could determine within hours -- instead of days -- if a patient has infections. (iStock)

A Sudbury hospital is evaluating new ways to detect more quickly and accurately if patients have been infected with potentially deadly bacteria.

The research arm at Health Sciences North is studying new screening methods for Clostridium difficile​ and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that could determine within hours — instead of days — if a patient has infections.

“The earlier we know, the more we can prevent these infections and the risk to other patients,” said Dr. Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, vice-president of research for Health Sciences North.

The new screening methods will be in place shortly, and results will be evaluated after a year.

The Sault Area Hospital has also been working to prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections through thorough cleaning and reducing overcrowding.

An outbreak of the C. difficile bacteria at the hospital caused 10 deaths and contributed to eight others between April and November 2006. Overcrowding and aging facilities were partially blamed.

Sault Area Hospital spokesman Mario Paluzzi says that while these infections have not been entirely eliminated, there have been no outbreaks of C.difficile or MRSA since the hospital moved into a new building in 2011.

“We've started with a clean slate here. New equipment is also very important,” Paluzzi said. “Even small things like chips in overside or bedside tables can be a breeding ground for bacteria.”