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St. Cloud Hospital investigates unusual bacterial infections

St. Cloud, Minn. - St. Cloud Hospital is working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to investigate unusual bloodstream bacterial infections among a group of 23 patients. The preliminary investigation has focused on patients who were ho...

St. Cloud, Minn. - St. Cloud Hospital is working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to investigate unusual bloodstream bacterial infections among a group of 23 patients. The preliminary investigation has focused on patients who were hospitalized on one unit from October 2010 through early March 2011.

Hospital and MDH officials believe the patients acquired the infections during their hospital stays.

"We are deeply saddened and sincerely regret this situation," said Craig Broman, St. Cloud Hospital president. "We take this matter very seriously. Our highest priority is to provide safe, quality patient care."

The preliminary investigation suggests the infection occurred because a nurse may have inadvertently introduced bacteria into intravenous (IV) bags of painkillers while diverting drugs for personal use. St. Cloud Hospital has suspended the nurse and a criminal investigation is under way. St. Cloud Hospital followed proper reporting procedures with local, state and national regulatory bodies and federal authorities.

There is no evidence to suggest that transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV occurred.

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The investigation began in February when hospital staff noticed an increased incidence of organisms that do not normally infect people. St. Cloud Hospital immediately consulted with a team of epidemiologists and other infectious disease experts from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

St. Cloud Hospital responded to the situation with a series of immediate steps, including:

--Removed all patient-controlled intravenous bags containing pain medication and replaced them with new bags;

--Tested these pain medication bags for the presence of bacteria;

--Tested multiple supplies and environmental sources for the presence of bacteria; and

--Evaluated individual employee and hospital-wide practices for managing and administering narcotics.

The hospital has notified the patients who were infected by the unusual bacteria. As part of the rigorous investigation, the hospital and health department are working to determine whether any additional patients were affected.

"We are continuing to work diligently on this investigation," said Linda Chmielewski, RN,

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the hospital's chief nursing officer and vice president of operations. "We are extremely troubled by this deviation from our usual high standards."

Related Topics: HEALTH
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