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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

Dangerous Bacteria Threatening Babies at Local Hospital

Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer

As of this writing, Prince George’s Hospital Center’s NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) remains closed because of Pseudomonas bacteria in the water pipes. On August 9, 2016, the discovery of Pseudomonas resulted in the transfer of nine NICU babies to another hospital as a precaution. The deaths of seven NICU babies since the beginning of 2016 are being investigated by an infectious disease expert in order to determine whether the deaths are linked to the Pseudomonas outbreak.

The bacteria were found in six sinks, including four NICU sinks, at the hospital. The sinks have since been removed and treated for Pseudomonas. Additionally, a water filtration system is now in place, and bottled water is being used to bathe any infants still in the hospital.

Interestingly enough, Pseudomonas is not usually found in NICU units.

What is Pseudomonas aeruginosa?

Pseudomonas, also known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa or P. aeruginosa, is normally ubiquitous in hospitals, especially in damp or watery environments. The bacterium is not rare or unusual, and is not normally a problem for healthy individuals. At most, it leads to a mild infection or a skin rash. Pseudomonas ear infections are common, because it is often found in bodies of water.

However, P. aeruginosa can result in big problems for those with weakened immune systems, and it can turn fatal. Those in hospitals on breathing machines, using catheters, or suffering from burns, recent surgery, or other wounds are at serious risk of a severe infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Neonates, who often have compromised immune systems and need an extended hospital stay, can be at special risk, especially those who have received multiple antibiotics or who have catheters.

A 2013 report from the CDC indicated that Pseudomonas results in about 400 deaths each year. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance, a growing problem for all of us, means that such infections are growing more difficult to treat and cure.

Pseudomonas is one of a number of bacteria implicated in hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), or infections that occur because of a hospital stay. Nearly 100,000 people die from HAIs each year.

Further Developments

Of the nine infants who were transferred out of Prince George’s, three were found to have been colonized with Pseudomonas. However, none of the infants has become sick, and officials are hopeful that the babies will remain free from infection.

A spokesperson for the hospital stated that no “clinical concerns” exist for any other patients due to Pseudomonas. Other than the closed NICU, all other services at Prince George’s Hospital Center are fully available.

How Can “The Injury Lawyer” Help You?

A lawsuit is often the only way for the victims of an outbreak to obtain justice and the compensation they need. Because Pseudomonas outbreaks can involve multiple, related cases of the illness, lawsuits can bring about the evidence that will link the source of the disease with the victims. In some lawsuits, multiple parties are named. Sometimes medical malpractice at the affected hospital is involved.