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Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Connected to Largest Ever CRE Outbreak

In a troubling report, the Sun Times reported yesterday on claims from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a serious bacterial outbreak connected to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Oak Park. Specifically, reports suggest that at least 44 individual cases were identified of patients contracting carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), of which 38 were from the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in northeastern Illinois. CRE is a particularly lethal medical complications that can affect residents in nursing homes and hospitals.

The CDC reports that the outbreak likely stemmed from patients at the Park Ridge hospital who were treated for a particular endoscopic procedure affecting the pancreas or bile ducts during the first nine months of last year. The CDC noted that these particular procedures are well-known for leading to increased risk of contracting CRE.

The Advocate Lutheran problem was first identified last summer, after at least six patients returned to the facility with CRE after undergoing the same procedure. In the face of clear concerns that many other patients may have been exposed to the bacteria, the facility began contacting patients and screening them for problems.

In the aftermath, the facility has changed that ways that scopes are cleaned and sterilized. However, there is still uncertainty over whether there were any lapses in protocol connected to the sterilization or procedure itself.

CRE – The Deadly Infection
Unfortunately, CRE is becoming more common in nursing homes and hospitals. First identified in 2009, CRE is a serious concern because of strains that are resistant to antibiotics. The bacteria include 70 different strains, like E. coli, that live in the digestive system. Particularly deadly, these bacteria sometimes grow resistant to all antibiotic treatment options. In fact, the bacteria can even grow resistant to the “antibiotic of last resort,” carbapenems, leading to the CRE name (carbapenems resistant)

In addition, according to the CDC,the infection almost exclusively targets those who are already sick–like hospital patients and nursing home residents. Even among the ill, there are a certain subset of patients that are at a particular risk. The CDC explains that individuals using ventilators, catheters, or those already taking long antibiotics courses are prone to CRE. When the bacteria germ becomes resistant to cabapenems then some suggest that the death rate may reach 50%. The stake are quite high.

Considering that CRE is relatively new–first identified in 2009–the CDC is still grappling to learn more about the infection. To help, the CDC has a special tracking website that hopes to be used to identify those at risks, and stop outbreaks before they are able to spread to more patients. To learn more, feel free to browse the CDC’s Healthcare-associated Infection website.

It is critical that hospitals and nursing homes throughout Illinois do everything in their power to prevent the spread of CRE. Considering the serious consequences of infection, it is acceptable for safety steps to be breached which cause harm to residents. For more information on your legal options following contraction of CRE, please contact our neglect attorneys today to learn more.

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