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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Possible Superbug Outbreak at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena

Possible Superbug Outbreak at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena

by Pasadena Independent
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-Courtesy Photo

-Courtesy Photo

The Los Angeles Times reported on their website Wednesday that an investigation of a suspected outbreak at Huntington Hospital might be related to the same type of medical scope tied to superbug infections across the country.

“Huntington Memorial Hospital said Wednesday it has alerted health authorities about a potential link between patients who have the bacteria known as pseudomonas and the Olympus Corp. duodenoscopes used to treat them,” the Times said.

We contacted Huntington Hospital for comment and Dr. Paula Verrette, Sr. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Huntington issued the following statement:

“After discovering a potential link between bacterial growth in a small number of patients who had undergone an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) procedure with endoscopes manufactured by Olympus, we moved quickly to notify public health authorities, quarantine suspected equipment and closely monitor potentially affected patients. 

The link between this bacteria, Pseudomonas, which is a community acquired bacteria found prevalently outside the hospital setting, has not yet been traced to a scope. We are still investigating the potential link and have engaged two nationally renowned medical research facilities for assistance. Even though the link between the scope and bacteria is not confirmed, we alerted the affected patients about a possible link as well as reported the bacterial growth to health officials.

We care deeply for every patient and believe our track record of providing high-quality, patient-centered care reflects this. As with any medical procedure, the risk and benefit was carefully weighed. As a large hospital that provides leading-edge procedures, we take very seriously the responsibility of informed consent before any procedure. The patients who experienced the bacterial growth were very ill before they underwent the scope procedure, and the risk of the procedure was explained to each patient and family. 

This is a problem facing every hospital and we will be part of the solution. Guidelines in place for disinfecting and monitoring scopes for bacterial growth are in line with FDA and manufacturer standards. We cannot deprive appropriate care to patients whose health issues can be relieved or addressed through the use of these scopes, but we are proceeding with an abundance of caution in our disinfecting and monitoring protocols to ensure patient safety.”  Paula Verrette, MD

 

“The hospital said it has notified patients who may have been affected. Huntington Memorial didn’t immediately disclose the number of patients involved or when the suspected infections may have occurred,” according to the newspaper website.

The Pasadena hospital said it has quarantined the suspected Olympus equipment and continues to closely monitor the patients involved.

Pseudomonas is a common cause of infections, but some strains of the bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics, leading to death for some patients.

Many hospitals across the country began looking into potential scope-related infections after an outbreak at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center that sickened eight patients, including three who died.

The UCLA outbreak was first reported by the Times in February. A month later, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said it had discovered four patients infected from tainted Olympus scopes.

Health officials have urged all hospitals to review their medical records to look for possible infections that have gone undetected.

”On Monday, FDA officials issued warning letters to Olympus and two other scope makers for a wide range of quality and safety-related violations. Olympus was singled out for not reporting infections to authorities in a timely manner,” according to the Times report.

Olympus, Fujifilm, and Pentax Medical have been criticized for designing scopes that are difficult to clean of dangerous germs and failing to respond sooner to indications of patient harm.

The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating the superbug outbreaks and has sent subpoenas to all three scope manufacturers. The companies have said they are cooperating with the inquiry.

In these cases, the bacteria can be transmitted during a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP.

 

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