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Dirty scopes infect 16 Huntington Hospital patients, including 11 who died


 A new Pasadena Public Health Department investigation report says 16 patients who were treated at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., between January 2013 and August 2015 were infected by dirty medical scopes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Eleven of those patients died.

According to health officials, only one of the 11 death certificates listed the scope-related bacteria — drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa — as the cause of death. It remains unclear whether the infection was a factor in the death of the other 10 patients, many of whom were already seriously ill or suffering from cancer.

Although the investigators were unable to definitively link all the patient deaths to the infections, they were able to connect all the infections to both the design of the medical scope and lapses in the hospital’s infection control protocols, according to the LA Times.

For instance, the report described visible residue in the machine used to clean the scopes, as well as instances of hospital staff using canned compressed air to dry the scopes, despite not being recommended in the cleaning guidelines from the scope manufacturer.

Huntington Hospital CMO Paula Verrette, MD, announced Wednesday that the hospital has altered its protocols based on the findings and recommendations of health officials. “Patient safety remains our highest priority,” she told the LA Times.

Officials from the Pasadena hospital originally decided against making a public statement about the patient deaths, claiming they believed patient privacy laws prevented them from doing so.

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