Every year, hospitals across the country report outbreaks linked to C. difficile and MRSA. Both C. difficile and MRSA can lead to serious health complications, and in severe cases, even death.
Oct. 21 marked the start of National Infection Control Week in Canada.
The Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada (AMRIC) and Health Sciences North/Horizon Santé-Nord (HSN) are using the occasion to announce they are working on two separate studies to develop improved methods of detecting and treating C. difficile and MRSA, and prevent their spread in a hospital setting.
The research projects are being led by Dr. Franciso Diaz-Mitoma, AMRIC’s scientific director and CEO, and HSN’s vice-president of research. Diaz-Mitoma is also a microbiologist who specializes in infectious disease control.
“C. difficile and MRSA infections are global problems facing hospitals everywhere, but in our projects we are searching for answers that are very relevant to our local situation,” said Diaz-Mitoma.
“By better understanding how C. difficile and MRSA are carried and transmitted, we can design more effective infection control strategies that will have a substantial, direct impact on the quality of care to our patients. What we learn through this research could be applied elsewhere in the world.”
The C. difficile research study will evaluate technology designed to detect C. difficile in a matter of hours, as opposed to days.
The research team will examine the rate at which the C. difficile bacteria is carried by individuals who are otherwise healthy.
The research team will also study whether C. difficile has a genetic signature unique to each patient. This will help the team map out how and where C. difficile spreads through a hospital setting.
The MRSA research project will focus on MRSA screening for all patients admitted to HSN’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), given patients in ICU are generally more susceptible to MRSA infection.
The research project will also evaluate a new method of screening for MRSA which provides results in hours, compared to the traditional method of screening for MRSA which has a turnaround time of 24 hours.
Special funding for the MRSA research project in the amount of $52,000 has been provided by the Northern Ontario Academic Medicine Association (NOAMA) Innovation Opportunities Fund. This funding is in addition to more than $667,000 in NOAMA grants for various other research projects at AMRIC and HSN.
“More effective infection control is one of the key priorities in our latest Quality Improvement Plan, and we’ve identified patient-based research and the adoption of innovation and new technologies as key strategic priorities, and these projects accomplish these objectives,” said Dr. Denis Roy, HSN president and CEO.
“Dr. Diaz-Mitoma is a leader in the field of microbiology and a first-rate researcher and the results of these projects will have tremendous, positive implications for patient safety at HSN.”