Contaminated scopes led to superbug outbreak at Seattle hospital

Dozens of patients at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle were infected with a superbug infection between 2012 and 2014 after coming in contact with contaminated endoscopes, the Seattle Times reports. The outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) resulted in 32 patients falling ill and 11 deaths.

The Times reports that hospital and public health officials in Seattle did not disclose the cause of the infection to patients and their families at the time of illness. Officials say it was unclear how much of a role CRE played in the illnesses because most of the patients undergoing the procedure were already ill with colon or pancreatic cancer.

Specialized endoscopes called duodenoscopes are used with patients who have pancreatic cancer and similar illnesses. Virginia Mason officials said the scopes were cleaned according to manufacturer’s instructions, but traces of bacteria remained.

Read the Seattle Times story here.

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Infection Control