MRSA Infects 18 New Moms and 19 Newborns at Boston's Beth Israel

WBUR.org, Boston’s NPR news station, posted the following transcript of an interview about Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s MRSA outbreak one day after the medical center’s CEO blogged about the infection and how they have been unable to determine how it was spread to 18 mothers and 19 newborns:

BOSTON - April 10, 2009 - State health officials have cited Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for having “serious deficiencies” in its infection control program.

The citation came after 18 mothers and 19 infants contracted antibiotic-resistant staph infections after staying in the hospital’s obstetrics and newborn sections.

Public information about the cluster of infections first appeared yesterday morning on a blog called “Running a Hospital” that’s written by Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Paul Levy. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health then issued a statement saying it had found major failures in the hospital’s effort to limit infections. 

Paul Dreyer, who heads the state’s Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality was also interviewed.  Said Dreyer, “We found serious problems with Beth Israel’s infection control program hospital-wide.” Dreyer also said it’s very unusual to see this many people coming down with MRSA on a single service.

The types of violations for which Beth Israel was cited are yet unknown, but Dreyer says they “could range from poor hand washing to unclean medical devices.”

 

A Playgroup or New Mom’s Group, Not Hospital Might Be MRSA Common Link?

According to the WBUR interview, Anita Barry of the Boston Public Health Commission claims that there is as of yet not enough information to determine whether the infection can be tied to the hospital.

When Beth Israel Deaconess learned that some of its former patients had infections, it began to contact pediatricians and obstetricians to try to locate other former patients who might also be infected. Barry says that outreach may have identified mothers and babies whose infections might otherwise have gone unreported. And she says those patients could have acquired their infections somewhere in the community.

[Said Barry] “It could be that there’s some common connection outside the hospital — perhaps a new mom’s group, perhaps a play group, perhaps a common pediatrician’s office — that hasn’t been identified that would tie some of these cases together.”

 

Beth Israel Deaconess was recently in the news for its 42 percent cesarean rate as reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in February 2009. Last October, a Beth Israel Deaconess patient died during a cesarean for the first time in ten years.

 

Edit: I left the following comment on Paul Levy’s “Running a Hospital” blog.

“When your hospital is surgically opening 42% of all pregnant women’s abdomens, I know that you’ll work hard to eliminate the risk of infection for all of the c-section moms and babies who are at a much higher risk than the other 58% of new moms.”

 

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