Bacteria that killed 3 infants traced to hospital equipment

Geisinger traces source of NICU infection that killed three infants to equipment used to prepare donor breast milk

Geisinger traces source of NICU infection that killed three infants to equipment used to prepare donor breast milk

Geisinger Medical Center said the infection that sickened eight babies and killed three is related to preparation of donated breast milk. After more than a month of investigating, the hospital said Friday that it finally discovered the cause: breast milk that had been contaminated by hospital equipment.

The Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., is pictured on January 6, 2016.

The infants who were sicked contracted an infection caused by pseudomonas bacteria.

Eight babies were infected and three of the children died from the infection earlier this year.

Infection control specialists explained that the equipment used to measure and administer donor breast milk was tainted with Pseudomonas bacterium, The Associated Press reports.

Hotline numbers have been established for any community members who may have questions regarding this announcement, the hospital said: 570-214-9087 and 570-214-9088. Pseudomonas bacteria is present throughout the environment, and only presents a health risk in extremely fragile patients.

"We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from pseudomonas in the NICU since making this change", Dr. Edward Hartle, Geisinger's executive vice president and chief medical officer, said in a statement.

"We would like to extend our honest apologies to the families who have been affected by this incident", Hartle's statement read.

The hospital said some premature newborns and expectant mothers are being sent to other facilities while it works with state health officials to resume normal operations. "We know that the public holds us to the highest standards, and we will continue to strive to live up to those expectations as we have throughout our history, constantly improving on what we do and how we do it", Hartle said.

Since the illnesses, Geisinger has been diverting mothers expected to deliver at less than 32 weeks, and babies born at less than 32 weeks, to other hospitals.

Officials say at the time, there was no written policy for cleaning equipment and have since changed to single-use equipment for the process.

It is important to emphasize that the donor breast milk at Geisinger is safe and we are certain the milk itself was not the cause of the exposure.

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