National News

Pennsylvania investigators trace NICU infection that killed 3 infants

Source was breast milk equipment

Montour County, PENNSYLVANIA (WPMT) -  Geisinger Medical Center announced Friday that investigators have determined the source of a bacterial infection that led to the death of three infants in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit earlier this year.

According to a press release issued by Geisinger, the source of the pseudomonas bacteria exposure came from the process the Danville hospital used to prepare donor breast milk.

A total of eight babies were infected, and three of the children died.

Geisinger said in the press release that its infection control team traced the bacteria to the equipment used in measuring donor breast milk for premature infants. Since September 30, the hospital said, the NICU has been using single-use equipment to measure and administer donor breast milk.

There have been no new cases of infants becoming ill from the waterborne bacteria in the NICU since making this change, Geisinger said in the release.

At the time, officials said, there was no written policy in place for cleaning equipment. The hospital has since switched to single-use equipment.

The State Department of Health cited the hospital for not having a policy in place, adding that it has worked with Geisinger to resolve any public health concerns and to ensure that appropriate follow-up measures occurred.

"We also want to emphasize that breast milk is the best food for infants, including premature infants, if possible," said a spokesperson for the State Department of Health. "Proper handling and storage of breast milk is an essential step to assuring safety. This is particularly important for premature babies.

"In addition, donor breast milk is considered safe and is essential for infants that need it."

The State Department of Health said that it's not aware of any other hospitals having recent issues with breast milk or donor breast milk.


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