Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Drug Resistant Bacteria from Hospital Drains Can Cause OutbreaksApril 12, 2017
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria growing in dark, wet hospital drains sounds like the beginning of a B-movie, where an impossible to kill superbug lurks in the pipes, spreading disease that ultimately wipes out the human race. While this is far from reality, researchers have discovered that resistant superbugs can grow and thrive in hospital drains. When contaminated water from the pipes splashes out onto sinks and counters, the bacteria can spread, causing serious outbreaks of diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.
In 2011-2012, 11 patients at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center died as a result of such a bacterial outbreak. According to Dr. Amy Mathers of the University of Virginia Health System, there has been an increase in sink-related outbreaks, not only in the United States, but worldwide. In effort to understand how and why this is happening, Mathers and her fellow colleagues created an experiment using E. coli bacteria, which is related to the Klebsiella species that is resistant to antibiotics, but is easily treated. The researchers genetically engineered to E. coli so that it would glow green when put under fluorescent light.
It is well known that drains are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially the U-shaped trap where water tends to collect. Not surprisingly, Mathers’ team found bacteria present in the trap. However, they also discovered that it grew up the sides of the pipe, and even up to the mouth of the drain. The bacteria formed a biofilm that is difficult to scrape off the pipes, and is resistant to chemicals. Even with several water-wash experiments, the bacteria remained stuck to the pipe, according to Mathers.
Unfortunately, the bacteria could splash out of the sink when the faucet was turned on, causing the bacteria to travel as far as two feet from the sink. Considering how often we are told about the importance of washing our hands, especially in hospitals, this raises serious concerns. Even bleach has been unsuccessful in killing the bacteria found in sink pipes.
One step hospitals can take is to replace sinks with ones that have faucets that are positioned so that the water does not pour directly into the drain, causing the water to splash. Dr. Tara Palmore, hospital epidemiologist at the NIH Clinical Center, said that the right sink design, combined with vigilant cleaning, can make a big difference. They were able to get rid of the drug-resistant Klebsiella in their hospital, however, it may not work in every situation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 23,000 die every year from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, and another two million people become sick. From a financial standpoint, these infections can cost $35 billion in lost productivity from sick days.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections
If you or a loved one has suffered because of a hospital acquired infection, you are urged to contact the reputable Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. If the hospital or any of the medical staff were responsible for the outbreak, we will hold them accountable while pursuing the maximum compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.