A Deadly Hospital Infection Impacting Newborns

levin perconti newborn illness

Ongoing Bacterial Infection Kills 3 Pennsylvania Preemies

At Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, three infants have died, and five others have become ill in the neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit since July 2019. A waterborne bacterial infection, which is preventable, is to blame. The children were born prematurely with weakened immune systems. They all became ill once infected by the pseudomonas bacteria, a common strain found in hospital settings when the hands of healthcare workers or contaminated equipment are not adequately cleaned. Patients, such as those infants in the NICU who require breathing machines, are potentially at risk for serious, life-threatening infections related to the bacteria.

A hospital official said that Geisinger has taken “extensive measures” to stop the infection from spreading, including “achieving optimal chlorination in water lines, improving and maintaining vigilance in donor breast milk processing, routine tap water cultures, increased deep cleaning of our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and many others.”

What does a Pseudomonas Infection Look Like in an Infant?

Pseudomonas infection is “caused by strains of bacteria found widely in the environment,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depending on where the infection is, Pseudomonas can infect any part of your infant’s body, including the blood (sepsis) and lungs.

  • Head and Ears:pain and discharge
  • Skin:rash, which can include pimples filled with pus
  • Eyes:pain, redness, swelling
  • Joint Pain: swelling; neck or back pain that lasts weeks
  • Open Wounds:green pus or discharge that may have a fruity smell
  • Digestive Tract:loss of appetite, diarrhea, stomach cramping
  • Lungs:pneumonia; severe coughing and congestion
  • Urinary Tract
  • Fever

Although when the infection occurs, some symptoms may not be easily identified in such young patients who are not able to communicate their discomfort. A trained and trusted physician must be notified at the first sign of the infant struggling and diagnose and treat the infection appropriately. Furthermore, hospital systems should have programs in place that teach and promote proper handwashing and equipment cleaning to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While the hospital, Pennsylvania’s state department of health and CDC are investigating the infection-related deaths, parents of NICU babies and other patients are left to wonder who is safe. Through reading this story, our team was reminded of the parents of an infant girl who sued Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), alleging the hospital’s failure to follow standard infection prevention controls which led to their daughter’s untimely death.

Hospitals Should Be Working to Prevent Chronic Infections 

If you suspect unsafe medical practices responsible for an infection or the delayed diagnosis and treatment of severe infection as the cause of a loved one’s illness or death, please contact Levin & Perconti. Our experienced team of attorneys handles cases throughout the city of Chicago, surrounding suburbs and the entire state of Illinois, including major lawsuits involving both hospital and health care facility-acquired infections.

Please, contact us now for a FREE consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago, toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, or by completing our online case evaluation form.

Also read: 3 Things To Do If A Hospital Stay Made You Sicker

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