The theme across Canada for International Infection Prevention Week is “It’s a Team Thing”. It’s a perfect theme and without a doubt 100% accurate. Lapses in infection prevention in most cases are not attributed to a single thing, but a number of factors. As mentioned last week, to celebrate IIPW I will be posting a daily blog sharing stories of friends and colleagues I work with at Virox whose lives either directly or indirectly have been touched by an HAI. It’s easy to play the blame game and point fingers, but I am hoping that by sharing these stories, we can instead think of how as a team we can work together to try and prevent HAIs from happening and reinforce the importance of infection prevention in saving lives.
When I sent the email out to our company asking if anyone had been impacted by an HAI in some way, I was hoping no one had a story to share. That unfortunately, wasn’t the case. The truth was many of us had. What was most alarming is that several shared stories that were almost identical. The stories I am sharing today are one of those.
The birth of a child should be the most amazing day or your life. After waiting for 9 months, you get to meet the child that you have felt growing in your belly or seen growing in your wife’s belly. Let’s be honest, giving birth to a child is not all sunshine and roses. It’s messy. It’s painful and yes, it can be deadly.
Today, I share the stories of the birth of my VP of Manufacturing's first child and the birth of my CEO's third child. Both stories follow the same path, an SSI after a C-section. In Zubair's story, his wife, Mehwish, spent two weeks in the hospital following the birth of their daughter, Zara. Mehwish was put on antibiotics, needed blood transfusions, and as one can expect, it took a while for her to recover, but she eventually went back to full health. Zara was born March 15, 2016 and today is a health, beautiful little girl.
My CEO, Randy, had the same thing happen to his wife Catherine. With 2 children at home, they thought they knew the game plan. Instead Catherine ended up with a staph infection, spent 2 weeks in quarantine and ICU where she had multiple cocktails of antibiotics. In fact at one point, his wife’s health had deteriorated so badly they actually had a priest come to her room. Even after the SSI cleared, she had 3 to 4 years of poor health due to the impact of the ordeal on her immune system. As Randy tells the story, Malory who is now 20 would sit on his desk while he worked after he had sent his 2 older children who were 7 and 5 at the time to school wearing pyjamas (Little Mermaid and Batman) which he thought was perfectly acceptable clothing…
SSIs are the most common and costly of all hospital-associated infections. In fact in the US, they account for 20% of all hospital-associated infections, meaning they occur in an estimated 2% – 5% of patients or 160,000 to 300,000 people each year. The most common pathogens to cause SSIs include bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas. So how do SSIs occur? Unfortunately, it’s really not that difficult. They can infect a surgical wound through various forms of contact, such as contaminated surgical instruments, the hands of a Healthcare worker or caregiver, through germs in the air, or through germs that are already on or in your body that get spread to the wound.
Luckily for my colleagues, while the start to what should have been one of the most joyous occasions of their lives got off to a rocky start, the story ended with a happily ever after for 2 very proud papas and 2 very beautiful girls. I hope we can use their stories to learn from our mistakes, learn that the cause of an HAI cannot be pinned on a single person or event, but that we all need to pull our weight to try and help stop them from happening to others – others who may be less fortunate.