Health: New Information On Superbug Infection

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS 3 HealthWatch Investigation uncovers new information on the deadly superbug infection, that killed people in L.A. and here in Philadelphia.  The location of the local outbreak is still not being released, but we have been able to rule out some local hospitals.

Officials with the The Philadelphia Department of Health now says laws prevent them from disclosing the name of the hospital that had a superbug outbreak last year which infected eight people, and left two dead.  It’s the same CRE infection that’s being investigated at UCLA.

The problem is with a specialized endoscope used mainly on and around the pancreas. The FDA says a movable mechanism is difficult to effectively clean between patients.

Dr. Robert Cherry the Chief Medical Officer at UCLA Medical Center says, “We’re very sorry about some of the anxiety and concern that this situation has posed.”   The L.A. hospital is now in the forefront of the investigation, but in Philadelphia there is continued silence.

In PA, it’s up to hospitals whether they disclose CRE infections. That’s another reason the health department says it’s not naming names. It doesn’t want to discourage reporting of future cases even though that reporting isn’t made public.  Patients like Alicia Cole say that’s not right. She was infected with a hospital superbug in an un-related case. “I learned after the fact that my hospital had been cited for infection control deficiencies. There was no way for me to know that,” Alicia says.

We reached out to three of the largest Philadelphia hospitals. Penn Medicine said they have not had any issue related to the scopes involved with the superbug outbreak.

A statement from Jefferson says in part:  “Our epidemiologic surveillance has looked closely for linkages between endoscopes and infections, but we have not identified any definitive connection.  The safety of patients is our number one priority, and we will remain vigilant about infection control.”

Temple University Hospital says, they have not had any CRE infections linked to the endoscopes causing the outbreak.

The endoscopes used for most procedures, including Colonoscopies are not involved with this superbug outbreak.

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