Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has discovered that four patients were infected with a “superbug” from a contaminated medical scope.
Officials said 67 other patients might have been exposed to the duodenoscope in question, which was used for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Patients were exposed to carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) — more commonly known as a superbug.
“Despite the fact that Cedars-Sinai meticulously followed the disinfection procedure for duodenoscopes recommended in instructions provided by the manufacturer (Olympus Corporation) and the FDA, the medical center’s infection-control specialists announced [March 4] that their investigation has identified a total of four patients who had a CRE transmission linked to an ERCP procedure,” a statement from Cedars-Sinai read. “The same duodenoscope was used in all four patients, whose ERCPs occurred between August 2014 and January 2015.”
Cedars-Sinai officials said one of the four infected patients died, but for reasons unrelated to CRE. The other three patients were discharged. According to health experts, CRE is highly resistant to antibiotics and can kill up to 50 percent of infected patients.
ERCP is a procedure in which a fiber-optic scope is threaded down the person’s throat to diagnose and treat problems in the digestive tract, such as gallstones, cancers and blockages of the bile duct.
The medical center has sent letters to all patients who were exposed to the scope in question. The news comes shortly after UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center acknowledged a similar outbreak.
“Cedars-Sinai removed the particular duodenoscope from use and is continuing to use enhanced disinfection procedures for duodenoscopes — above and beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations — as it has since first hearing reports from other hospitals on Feb. 19 that the manufacturer’s disinfection recommendations may not be sufficient to protect patients,” the Cedars-Sinai statement read.
The medical center is offering the exposed patients a free home testing kit for CRE that can be sent to Cedars-Sinai for analysis.
U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) joined colleagues in Congress in sending a letter to commissioner Margaret Hamburg of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking further information and ideas from the FDA on how best to prevent fatal outbreaks of superbugs.
“The fact that this outbreak happened at Cedars-Sinai, which is in my district and is one of the best medical facilities in the world, demonstrates how grave this issue is and how urgently it needs to be addressed,” Lieu said. “That is why I met with incoming FDA commissioner [Stephen] Ostroff [March 4] to discuss ways to combat superbugs. I was heartened by the focus and seriousness with which the incoming commissioner is treating this issue. I look forward to working with him and other stakeholders. I am also calling for oversight hearings in Congress on superbugs. I am hopeful that these hearings will take place soon.”
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