CRE Superbug Disclosure at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia Raises Questions

March 16, 2015

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s release of information concerning the superbug infection last year in Philadelphia left us speculating about whether their conclusion, “no definitive link” between duodenoscopes and the outbreak, was warranted. The Friday the 13th release about last year’s events was short on details and seemed more like the hospital intended to bury the story in the Friday evening news.  We were hoping we would get more details later but so far, we’ve heard nothing new. Jefferson Hospital admitted to CRE infections in at least eight patients following the use of duodenoscopes from January 1, 2013 to June 1, 2014. After examining the information released, Dan Purtell, one of our trial attorneys, noted a few specific questions that he thought the hospital should have also answered: Patient Safety Jefferson did not release the number of patients who may have been infected by the devices or the number of ERCP procedures conducted between January 1, 2013 and June 1, 2014. Patient Disclosures Jefferson did not state if and how many patients were contacted by officials to disclose the potential exposure and whether these individuals were subsequently tested. Testing Jefferson did not identify the specific types of CRE superbug infections at issue, the testing protocol that was used, when the tests occurred or if the internal elements of the devices were specifically tested. These are just a few of the questions that Dan identified, but they make sense.

Why Are We Asking These Questions?

Last month, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said that two patient died with superbug infections following duodenoscope procedures in the city but that the deaths were “not clearly related” to their infections. The hospital’s silence following this disclosure was troubling. Now, the hospital has essentially asked us to trust it that there was no link between the infections and the duodenoscopes. We would be very interested in seeing the data that supports this conclusion. After an investigation lasting several months and in light of the the high level of scrutiny of the devices, we think additional information is warranted. In the Los Angeles outbreak at UCLA, the hospital had 170 patients potentially exposed. It notified everyone out of an abundance of caution and offered the patients free at-home testing kits. Did Jefferson do the same thing? We would like to know. If you have additional information about the outbreak at Jefferson, please contact Dan Purtell, Esq. at (215) 545-8800. If you are looking for additional information about the superbug infections, Dan has written an ebook for individuals and families that may answer some of their questions. The ebook can be downloaded at /superbug-infections/