Second LA hospital issues alert over 'superbug'

The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center may have unwittingly infected nearly 70 patients with a treatment-resistant superbug, it said, becoming the second Los Angeles hospital to issue an alert.

AFP| Updated: Mar 05, 2015, 08:52 AM IST

Los Angeles: The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center may have unwittingly infected nearly 70 patients with a treatment-resistant superbug, it said, becoming the second Los Angeles hospital to issue an alert.

The top hospital, known for treating Hollywood celebrities, said four patients were confirmed with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae bacteria (CRE), which was linked last month to two deaths at another Los Angeles hospital.

In both cases -- the other hospital involved was the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center -- the infections were apparently transmitted via tainted surgical tools called duodenoscopes, used to diagnose and treat diseases of the pancreas and bile duct.

"Despite the fact that Cedars-Sinai meticulously followed the disinfection procedure" recommended by the manufacturer, the hospital "has identified a total of four patients who had a CRE transmission," said Cedars-Sinai yesterday.

"Out of an abundance of caution," it has sent out letters to a total of 68 patients who had had a duodenoscope procedure with that particular scope between August 2014 and February 2015, it said.

Hospital officials said they are making home testing kits available to the at-risk patients to determine if they have been infected with the superbug.

Last month the UCLA Ronald Reagan hospital said the superbug was a contributing factor in the death of two patients, and at least seven others had been infected. It said it was notifying another 179 potential patients.

The CRE bacterium is resistant to treatment by most common antibiotics, and is particularly dangerous in a hospital setting, where patients might have compromised immune systems or might be recovering from surgery.

Hospital officials said they are making home testing kits available to the at-risk patients to determine if they have been infected with the superbug.