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Court approves $9M settlement over deadly C. diff outbreak at Ontario hospital

BURLINGTON, Ont. - An Ontario court has approved a $9-million settlement for people affected by a deadly C. difficile outbreak at a Burlington, Ont., hospital.

More than 200 people were diagnosed with C. difficile and 91 of them died after contracting the bacteria at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital between May 2006 and December 2007.

C. difficile can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and in some cases, death.

Dozens of people who either contracted C. difficile at the hospital or whose relatives died after becoming infected with the bacteria there sued the hospital alleging negligence.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has approved a settlement of $9 million, $1.2 million of which will go to lawyers.

Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall told the court through his lawyer that the hospital has made several changes to prevent future outbreaks.

The hospital introduced molecular testing so C. difficile can be detected more quickly, regular monitoring of antibiotic usage and hygiene practices, hired an infection disease specialist and enacted prompt placement of patients in isolation when the first symptoms of diarrhea arise.

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