August 5, 2004 14:03 | Montreal

C. difficile

Microbe blamed for 100 deaths at Quebec hospital

A bacterial agent commonly found in health-care settings has
been blamed for the deaths of 100 patients in the last 18 months in a
single Quebec hospital, says an infectious disease expert at the
facility, who is calling for government action to forestall more
outbreaks across the country.

Dr. Jacques Pepin says cases of Clostridium difficile at University
Hospital in Sherbrooke have been steadily increasing. And the incidence
among those most vulnerable to the disease " patients aged 65 and older
" jumped 10-fold between 1991 and the end of 2003.

The infection has been blamed for killing 54 patients in 2003 and
another 46 in the first six months of this year at the 683-bed hospital,
said Dr. Pepin, lead author of a study in the Canadian Medical
Association Journal.

Using patient records, the University of Sherbrooke researchers compiled
cases of C. difficile and deaths from the infection over the last 14
years. They found the proportion of patients who died within 30 days of
diagnosis soared to almost 14 per cent in 2001 from less than 5 per cent
in 1991.

Obvious french pun aside ("C'est difficile" means "it is difficult"... which I imagine going into plummeting blood-pressure shock due to severe diarrhea must be...), I have to wonder a few things here:

  1. Our much vaunted healthcare system is going down the tubes, isn't it?
  2. 54 deaths in one hospital in one year from one bacterium?! HELLO?!
  3. Where's my facemask? ;)

Ok, I posted that purely for the morbid poo-poo joke.


The proportion is indeed big, but unfortunately is something which is common. In French, it's called "Infection Nausocomiale", it means disease caught at the hospital. They had a difficult case 3 years ago in Paris at a brand new hospital. Most of the time, air conditionning helps a lot to spread the disease

Morality: Hospital is not necessary the most secure place in the world ;) Though I have spent many years into it, to see my mother working and I haven't been hit... or maybe yes... it's why I'm weird :p

For the facemask, which color will you pick :p