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UCLA Says More Than 100 Patients Exposed to Superbug

Laura Joszt
More than 100 patients may have been infected by a "superbug" bacteria during procedures at the UCLA Health System and 2 have died.
More than 100 patients may have been infected by a “superbug” bacterium during procedures at the UCLA Health System, according to a recent statement.

These patients were exposed to the bacteria during endoscopic procedures between October 2014 and January 2015 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. A total of 7 patients have been infected and 2 have died.

“…an internal investigation determined that carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria may have been transmitted during a procedure that uses this specialized scope to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary diseases and may have been a contributing factor in the death of two patients,” according to a statement from the health system.

The potentially infected patients are being offered free home testing kits that UCLA would analyze. According to the CDC, up to half of patients who contract CRE are killed by the bacteria.

The Associated Press reported that 179 total patients were exposed to this deadly superbug resistant to antibiotics. UCLA said that the scopes were sterilized according to the manufacturer’s standards.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred. In 2013, 44 Illinois residents were infected with CRE. Bacteria were found on 3 endoscopic devices, but there were no problems found with the hospital’s cleaning methods, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A study from the Medical University of South Carolina from September found that the chances of infections acquired in the hospital becoming drug resistant increase 1% for each day a patient is hospitalized. Furthermore, approximately 1 in 25 hospitalized patients have at least 1 hospital-acquired infection.

In fiscal year 2015, CMS will penalize more than 700 hospitals for poor performance in the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which is scored on patient safety and healthcare-associated infections. The program encourages hospitals to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and improve patient safety through financial incentives. This year, hospitals with high scores in hospital-acquired conditions will see their payments reduced by 1% for all discharges.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was among the hospitals penalized for its score of 8.7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

 
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