On Monday, U.S. Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.) has requested Congressional hearings in regards to recent “superbug” outbreaks.
The congressman sent a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) requesting a hearing on the multiple sterilization failures of a medical device known as the duodenoscope. The sterilization problems have led to multiple deaths nationwide and repeated outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria a.k.a. “superbugs,” he said.
“Addressing the problems posed by duodenoscope-linked superbug outbreaks is one step forward in combating the health and national security threats posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” Lieu wrote in the letter. “I call upon the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to fully investigate these life and death issues.”
Duodenoscope-linked outbreaks have occurred multiple times in the country over the last few years, including in states such as Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Carolina and Washington State. Most recently, UCLA Medical Center had seven patients who were infected and two who were killed by a deadly bacterial outbreak of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), also known as a “superbug.”
CRE is contagious, especially in hospital settings, experts said. The UCLA Medical Center deadly superbug outbreak is linked to duodenoscopes that were not thoroughly sterilized.
Duodenoscope-linked CRE outbreaks have national security ramifications Lieu said, and President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Sept. 18, 2014 stating, “combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a national security priority.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert regarding the duodenoscope after the recent publication of a Los Angeles Times investigation.
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