Health Officials Slam Geisinger For “Systemic” Failures In Deadly NICU Bacterial Outbreak

Health Officials Slam Geisinger For “Systemic” Failures In Deadly NICU Bacterial Outbreak

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Pennsylvania health officials announced yesterday that Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, the hospital where three infants died in a bacterial outbreak, routinely failed to sanitize the equipment used to prepare breast milk and ordered the facility to correct the “systemic nature of non-compliance with regards to infection control” that placed its most vulnerable patients in “immediate jeopardy.” The revelations in the just-released state inspection were met with condemnation by Matt Casey, who is representing two families that have lost babies in the tragic Pseudomonas outbreak.

Casey, a founding partner at Ross Feller Casey and one of the nation’s top personal injury lawyers, called the findings “serious and shocking” and “even worse than already understood.”

“This is an institution that holds itself out as a facility that has specific expertise in caring for premature babies, and this report demonstrates that there was a flagrant disregard of the most basic infection control policies,” Casey told The Associated Press.

In all, eight babies treated at Geisinger’s neonatal intensive care unit fell seriously ill with Pseudomonas bacterial infections between early July and late September of last year. Three of them died as a result of the outbreak, which later was found to have been caused by contaminated equipment used to prepare donor breast milk.

Casey filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Luzerne County in October on behalf of Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda, the Hazle Township, Pa., parents of Abel Cepeda, who died on Sept. 30. Casey is also representing the parents of twins who were sickened in the outbreak, one of whom has died.

Among other things, the latest health department report found that Geisinger:

  • “Failed to maintain a sanitary environment” by storing clean equipment in a hallway without protective coverings and by storing breast milk at improper temperatures.
  • Had soiled linens being stored “directly on the floor” – a violation of policy designed to prevent microbial dissemination.
  • Failed to report serious events to the Department and the Patient Safety Authority within 24 hours of the occurrence.
  • Failed “to report an unusual cluster of isolates” to the health department within 24 hours.

In an interview with the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice, Casey said, “The outrageous conduct revealed in this report is heartbreaking, and Geisinger must be held accountable. Not accidentally but rather knowingly and recklessly, Geisinger exposed its most vulnerable patient population to appallingly unsanitary and unsafe conditions.”

The state inspection drew widespread media coverage – see below:

WNEP-16

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