Montreal

C. difficile inquiry ends with calls for new cleaning standard

Lawyers testifying at the C. difficile inquest in St-Hyacinthe urged the hospital to overhaul its cleaning policies, and insisted the director resign in response to 16 deaths at the institution in 2006.

Lawyers testifying at the C. difficile inquest in St-Hyacinthe urged the hospital to overhaul its cleaning policies, and insisted the director resign in response to 16 deaths at the institution in 2006.

The recommendations were among many suggestions made to Quebec coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier on Thursday, the last day of the C. difficile inquiry probing the deaths of 16 patients at the Honoré-Mercier hospital east of Montreal.

A lawyer representing the hospital's unionized workers said the outbreak should be blamed on staffing problems that worsened after the institution cut four cleaning jobs, which made it impossible to followrecommended disinfection schedules.

As a result of staffing shortages, patients' rooms were only disinfected during the week and bathrooms in the ER were cleaned just once a day, Lise Lanno told the inquest.

She recommended the hospital get rid of a computer system used to calculate cleaning staff needs.

Some of the victims' families want hospital director Denis Blanchard to resign, said lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard, who also insisted on new disinfection standards for hospitals across the health-care system.

A lawyer representing Anne Vibien, the hospital's microbiologist, said the institution'sefforts to prevent the infection's spread were inconsistent, and the hospital should be sanctioned.

Jacques Nols, Honoré-Mercier hospital's legal spokesman, acknowledged there were problems with cleaning procedures but insisted thereis no direct link to the deaths.

'I think no human being deserves that': daughter

On Wednesday, some victims' family members took the stand to speak of their experiences at the hospital.

Yvonne Bourgeois told the inquiry it was difficult to get a straight answer from the hospital after her 93-year-old mother-in-law died following treatment for a foot injury.

"No one told us [she had contracted C. difficile]. We found that out from the coroner," she told the courtroom in French.

"I think no human being deserves that. Whether we're old or young, one day it will be our turn, and we don't know how we'll be treated."

Coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier is to produce a report by fall 2007 in which she'll determine how 16 patients at the St-Hyacinthe hospital contracted a virulent mutant strain of C. difficile believed to have caused their deaths.

She'll also make recommendations to prevent future outbreaks.

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