London Nurse's Death: ONA appeals Ministry of Labour investigation

TORONTO, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is appealing the decision by a Ministry of Labour inspector to not issue orders against London Health Sciences Centre or make recommendations for improvements in procedures and practices following the death of one of its registered nurses of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

"Our member died after contracting MRSA, which ONA believes was in part due to the poor training practices at this facility," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We also believe that London Health Sciences Centre's attendance management policies, measures and procedures and the demonstrated erosion in screening procedures at the facility all played a role in our member feeling pressured to work while clearly ill."

The appeal argues that the Ministry inspector failed to adequately assess the training practices and inadequately assessed the hospital's development and implementation of occupational health and safety policies, measures and procedures.

The nurse in question died last February at London Health Sciences Centre; prior to her death, she had been the primary nurse assigned to care for a patient infected with community-acquired MRSA - a so-called superbug - in the Critical Care Trauma Centre.

The hospital's attendance management policy has resulted in nurses believing that management is critical of nurses who self-report illness; one RN told the Ministry inspector that there is an unspoken rule that nurses are not to call in sick prior to scheduled vacation time - and the nurse in question had scheduled vacation time for the week following the dates on which she cared for the MRSA patient. The RN died six days after caring for the patient.

"The seriousness of this incident and the need for hospitals to do a better job of infection control cannot be ignored," says Haslam-Stroud. "We know from past experience that nurses are seriously impacted by infectious disease outbreaks while caring for patients, and appropriate health and safety policies are particularly vital."

ONA is the union representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals and 10,000 nursing students providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing advocacy - a proud past, a powerful future.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369

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