A North Carolina hospital is the latest provider to report several patients have been infected with the same deadly, drug-resistant superbug linked to several deaths at healthcare facilities in Los Angeles and Seattle.
As many as 18 people have contracted carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, so far this year, according to representatives with Carolinas HealthCare System. Three of the 18 acquired the infection while inpatients at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy in Charlotte.
Not known at this point is how the patients were infected, according to system spokesman Kevin McCarthy. All of the facility's duodenoscopes—medical scopes that were the cause for CRE outbreaks at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle—tested negative for CRE, McCarthy said.
“Given the size of Carolinas HealthCare System and complex cases it sees, the number of patients with CRE is not atypical,” McCarthy stated. “Many of these patients have multiple medical issues and that makes it a challenge when compiling statistics. We continue to evaluate medical records to ensure the accuracy of information.”
The health system began using ethylene oxide gas to sterilize duodenoscopes before the recent CRE outbreaks at other facilities linked to contaminated scopes, McCarthy said.
Between October 2014 and January 2015, as many as 179 people were exposed to CRE at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center during endoscopic procedures with contaminated duodenoscopes. Seven patients were infected and two died, according to hospital officials. The UCLA outbreak follows a similar one that involved 32 patients at Virginia Mason Medical Center between November 2012 and January 2014.
“The presence of infections in healthcare facilities is an ongoing national challenge,” McCarthy said. “Carolinas HealthCare System is aggressively addressing this issue, including using decontamination procedures and protocols that go beyond industry standards. In many cases, patients bring the infections with them when they are admitted.”
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