Apr 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Superbug Breaks Out at UCLA Medical Center, Causing Concern for Safety of Endoscopic Procedures

Feb 19, 2015 09:05 PM EST

While all may seem fine in endoscopic outpatient procedures, with an easy check-in and virtually no down-time at all, it turns out that an antibiotic-resistant superbug may be waiting in the OR. Health officials with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the California health department are on high alert this week as news of two deaths in a local Los Angeles hospital have researchers wondering whether the superbug will claim more lives in its wake.

Known simply as CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, the highly lethal bacteria, which can kill up to 50 percent of all infected patients, was linked to the death of two patients and the confirmed infection of seven patients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 

While the hospital and local and state health officials confirm that no infection controls were breached in recent reviews, spokespersons with the hospital believe that it is likely that the patients contracted the bacteria during endoscopic procedures conducted between October 2014 and January 2015. 

Though hospital spokesperson Roxanne Yamaguchi Moster says that the two scopes used for the procedures were sterilized to the manufacturer's instructions, "an internal investigation determined that CRE bacteria may have been transmitted during a procedure that uses this specialized scope to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary (disorders of the bile ducts, gall bladder of pancreas)".

The hospital is currently contacting 179 other patients who recently had endoscopic procedures, however, urge the public who may have been infected to contact the hospital immediately and set up an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible. Patients are being offered tests for the aggressive bacteria which can be taken at home.

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