Tainted IV Bags Eyed in Alabama Hospital Deaths

Nine deaths have been attributed to <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">tainted IV bags in six hospitals in Alabama, according to health officials, said CNN. A total of 19 patients have been infected with the dangerous serratia marcescens bacteremia following IV feeding with the deadly IV bags.

“This represents an example of an outbreak that does, unfortunately, occur,” Dr. Don Williamson of the Alabama Department of Public Health told reporters in a conference call, quoted CNN. While serratia marcescens bacteremia can be deadly, investigators, including a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have not confirmed the cause of death, said CNN. Dr. Williamson noted that the investigation continues.

The bacteria, which are rod-shaped, were found in IV bags—so-called total parenteral nutrition, explained Dr. Williamson. The pathogens would have entered the bloodstreams rapidly and “with a pretty quick effect in terms of blood pressure and temperature,” said Dr. Williamson, who said the IV bags were recalled last week and were only available from one manufacturer, said CNN. There has been no confirmation as to how many people received the IV solution.

Dr. Jim McVay, director of health promotion and chronic disease with the Alabama Health Department said the hospitals were identified as Baptist Princeton, Baptist Shelby, Medical West, Cooper Green Mercy, and Select Specialty in Birmingham and Baptist Prattville, which is 80 miles south of Birmingham, wrote CNN. It appears as if the hospitals were not at fault, added Dr. McVay.

The outbreak, which started in January, was identified March 16 after two hospitals reported “unusual cases of bacteria” in “high-risk patients, said Dr. McVay, said CNN.

Birmingham-based Meds IV manufactured the products and shipped them to all six hospitals, Dr. McVay said. The company did not immediately return a call to CNN, it added.

Dr. McVay pointed out that the patients receiving IV treatment through the product are usually seriously ill. Some of the remaining 10 survivors remain hospitalized, said CNN.

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” with other risks factors that include “cardiac valve replacement, transfusions, and the use of contaminated intravenous infusions.”

Other diseases linked to serratia marcescens bacteremia include urinary tract infection, in which most patients had recently undergone surgery or instrumentation of the urinary tract and respiratory tract infection, which could be linked to infection after instrumentation. Meningitis and cerebral abscess, osteomyelitis and arthritis, and ocular infection, to name some, are other dangerous infections and diseases linked to this bacteria.

Most S. marcescens strains are resistant to several antibiotics.

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