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UCLA Apologizes for ‘Superbug’ Deaths

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The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center apologized on Thursday after news surfaced this week of two patients who died from contracting a “superbug” through the use of endoscopes called duodenoscopes that had been contaminated.

The medical center asserted that it found the two contaminated endoscopes that triggered the attack, adding that they had been cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions but carried the bug in spite of the cleaning. UCLA stated, “The two scopes involved with the infection were immediately removed and UCLA is now utilizing a decontamination process that goes above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards.”

On Thursday, responding to the UCLA tragedy, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the duodenoscopes, which are used in over 500,000 cases annually, were hard to cleanse and might “facilitate the spread of deadly bacteria.” The FDA added that even though the cleaning process is complicated, even if the manufacturer’s recommendations are followed fastidiously, the process “should reduce the risk of transmitting infection, but may not entirely eliminate it.”

Five other people became infected with the “superbug” known as CRE; 179 people were exposed to the bug. The medical center has attempted to notify all 179 people. Dr. Zachary Rubin, medical director of clinical epidemiology and infection prevention at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, stated that the scopes had only been utilized since last June.

Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., said of CRE, “Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections,.” Almost half of patients who contract DRE in the bloodstream die.

The patients exposed at UCLA were sent a kit with a medical test to be taken at home that will be analyzed by experts.


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