Lab Chief Suspect in Alabama Hospital Outbreak

<"">Meds IV tainted IV bags have allegedly led to nine deaths and 10 illnesses at six Alabama hospitals, which resulted in one wrongful death suit and an ongoing probe. Now, according to state health department director, Dr. Donald Williamson, the type of bacteria identified on the deadly IV feeding bags matches the type found on a sink and in production areas at Meds IV.

According to The Associated Press (AP) a precise match has not been made and the deaths and illnesses have also not been directly linked to the infection, said the AP, but investigators are hoping that test results received today will shed more light on the tragedies.

Meanwhile, one wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the manufacturer of the contaminated IV feeding bags on behalf of Mary Ellen Kise, who died as a result of the Alabama hospital infections. The infections were caused by serratia marcescens bacteremia, the pathogen that contaminated the deadly IV feeding bags. Ms. Kise died at Baptist Health Systems hospitals after receiving treatment with a contaminated IV made by Meds IV, LLC, according to Reuters.

The families of two other deceased patients and one patient who suffered brain injuries after receiving IV feeding with Meds IV products are also pursuing legal action, noted Reuters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified the six Alabama hospitals in which infections with the dangerous bacteria were confirmed: Princeton Baptist Medical Center; Shelby Baptist Medical Center; Cooper Green Mercy Hospital; Medical West; Prattville Baptist Hospital; and Select Specialty Hospital, a long-term acute care hospital that is part of the Trinity Medical Center.

The serratia marcescens bacteremia pathogen found in the tainted products can lead to urinary tract, respiratory tract, optical, and wound infections, noted Reuters. eMedicine explained that the main risk factor for Serratia sepsis/bacteremia—sepsis—is hospitalization following placement of “intravenous, intraperitoneal, or urinary catheters and prior instrumentation of the respiratory tract.” Other diseases linked to serratia marcescens bacteremia include meningitis, cerebral abscess, osteomyelitis, and arthritis; most S. marcescens strains are resistant to several antibiotics.

On March 16, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) was notified that an outbreak occurred in two of the six hospitals among patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN), a liquid nutrition fed through an IV using a catheter.

ADPH requested assistance from the CDC; its initial investigation identified TPN produced by a single pharmacy—Meds IV—as a potential common source and has determined that these hospitals received TPN from this pharmacy. Meds IV was notified and has informed its customers of the potential contamination. ADPH was informed that affected hospitals immediately stopped using TPN received from this pharmacy and that the pharmacy discontinued all production. On March 24, Meds IV recalled all of its IV compounded products.

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