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Two deaths have occurred and 179 patients could be infected with the carbepenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. Los Angeles hospital, UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center has informed numerous patients that they may have been exposed to the bacterial infection. Currently seven patients are documented to be infected and two patients have already died. The 179 patients that may be infected have been offered home testing kits.
The infections are thought to have occurred at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center during the months of October, 2014 and January, 2015. The endoscopic equipment used to diagnose disorders of the pancreas, stomach and other internal organs, is thought to be to blame for this bacterial infection. Other hospitals have reported the same problem with these endoscopes and the U.S food and Drug Administration is assisting the medical device companies involved in the manufacturing of these products, in the hopes of abolishing further infections. The problem is that the design of these endoscopes has multiple crevices that give germs the opportunity to grow and make them difficult to clean.
"The UCLA hospital system said it had been sterilizing the scopes according to the manufacturer's standards, but was now using a more rigorous process".
"The two scopes involved with the infection were immediately removed, and UCLA is now utilizing a decontamination process that goes above and beyond manufacturer and national standards," it said in the statement
UCLA spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said both scopes in question, which the hospital started using in June 2014, had been permanently set aside and would be returned to the manufacturer". Reuters
According to the CDC, 1 in 25 patients are diagnosed with a healthcare associated infection, also known as nosocomial infection. In 2011 there were about 722,000 nosocomial infections in U.S hospitals which resulted in an estimated 75.,000 deaths.
According to a study at the University of Michigan Health system, even when strict adherence to the procedures and protocols for cleaning instruments was followed, the instruments still contained debris.
The people most susceptible to these infections are the elderly, the very young, critically ill patients and those on ventilators.
The problem with these "superbugs" is that they can be extremely resistant to antibiotics, which makes them very hard, if not impossible to treat. According to the CDC, 50 percent of patients infected with these superbugs could die.
While this this particular infection is related to instrumentation, (the endoscope) used for diagnostic procedures and biopsies. Other nosocomial infections can be linked back to poor hygiene by healthcare staff.
What can nurses and other healthcare professionals do to help reduce the incidence of nosocomial infections? Hand washing is key. Always wash your hands between patients and follow procedures and protocols of your facility to the letter.
What do you think about this superbug? Comment below.