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Outbreaks of bacteria borne diseases can be prevented

While we haven’t posted on the dangers of disease and infections in hospitals in a while, it does not mean that other disease-borne threats are not growing. The latest edition of the ECRI Institute highlights that outbreaks of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have been on the rise. The outbreak of infections has been associated with the increased use of Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography procedures (ERCP).

For the uninitiated, ERCP’s are used to treat a number of gastrointestinal problems, including gall bladder problems, kidney stones and bowel obstructions. With these procedures, the risk of infections can occur because the instruments used in them may not be completely sanitized. Investigations have found that staff may not be following protocols established by the manufacturer. 

The outbreak alert also noted several processes that could be used to limit the possibility of infected instruments being used in future procedures. They included, but were not limited to:

–          Maintaining close adherence to manufacturers’ instructions regarding reprocessing.

–          Flushing all instruments with alcohol and drying them with compressed air.

–          Completing a broad based culture to ensure instruments are bacteria free before use in future procedures.

These recommendations can not only be life-saving techniques, they are examples of the duty to use reasonable care when performing ERCP’s. Indeed, sanitized instruments are essential in preventing the spread of bacteria and the diseases that come with them. If a hospital fails to use such care and a patient is sickened as a result, the hospital could be held liable.

The preceding is not legal advice. If you have specific questions about medical negligence, an experienced attorney can help. 

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