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Woman Sues Illinois Hospital, Claims Dirty Endoscopes Infected Dozens

CDC investigation recently tied hospital to a superbug outbreak.

Published: October 27, 2014

A woman filed a lawsuit last week against a Chicago-area hospital claiming she and 43 other patients contracted a "superbug" bacterial infection after undergoing procedures involving improperly-cleaned endoscopes, according to a Chicago Sun-Times reports.

In the lawsuit, Donna Pirolli says she underwent a procedure that used an endoscope at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park in June 2013. She says that she was infected with a bacteria called NDM producing CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae), which "colonized" on the tainted endoscope.

According to the CDC, the bacteria is in a family of more than 70 bacteria including E. coli that normally live in the digestive system and is resistant to antibiotics. The superbug is usually contracted by patients in medical facilities, and commonly causes urinary tract infections, but can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream.

Earlier this year, the Sun-Times reported that a CDC investigation found 44 cases of the CRE bacteria in northeastern Illinois between January and September 2013, including 38 confirmed cases involving patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

The investigation found that the patients who were screened and tested positive for the bacteria had a history of undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The CDC's report also said that even after manual cleaning and high-level disinfection, the scopes at the hospital still were found to have E. coli and other bacteria. The report says there were "no lapses" in the hospital's protocol.

Shortly after the investigation into the outbreak, the hospital changed its sterilization procedures to include using gas sterilization for the endoscopes, it was reported. In her lawsuit Ms. Pirolli alleges that the hospital improperly cleaned the scopes, causing her infection.

A representative for Advocate Lutheran General Hospital did not immediately return requests for comment. Ms. Pirolli could not be reached for comment.

Kendal Gapinski


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