The lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., are investigating an outbreak of infections involving a highly dangerous strain of bacteria among patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and possibly other facilities in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois.
The bacteria is a strain of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 44 cases of the bacteria have been identified in northeastern Illinois. It is the largest outbreak of this strain of bacteria in U.S. history, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper reports that 38 confirmed cases involve patients who underwent endoscopic procedures involving the pancreas or bile ducts at Advocate Lutheran General between January and September 2013.
The hospital has sent registered letters to all patients who underwent the procedure, the Sun-Times reports. The letters contain the hospital’s explanation of the situation. The hospital also asks patients to return to the hospital to be tested for possible exposure to the bacteria.
If you or a loved one has received one of these letters, or if you believe you may have been exposed to this strain of CRE at Advocate Lutheran General or another medical facility in northeast Illinois, you should take steps to protect your legal rights.
To learn more, contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., without delay. We can provide a free and confidential review of your case and help you to assess your legal options.
Why Should You Be Concerned About CRE Infections?
The strain of CRE identified in the northeast Illinois outbreak is called NDM-1. It makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
CRE commonly causes urinary tract infections. Symptoms of such infections include frequent and painful urination, kidney pain, fever, chills and nausea. If the bacteria reaches the bloodstream, a patient may face a 50 percent risk of death, the Sun-Times reports.
According to the newspaper, 243 patients screened at Advocate Lutheran General were exposed to the bacteria but were “colonized.” In other words, the bacteria lived in their digestive track but did not result in disease. Additionally, the newspaper reports that:
- 28 patients were exposed to the bacteria but did not suffer an infection
- 10 patients showed signs and symptoms of infection
- A “small percentage” of patients have been treated with antibiotics.
How Did CRE Infections Possibly Occur in Northeast Illinois?
Cook County, Illinois and federal health officials are investing the CRE outbreak in northeast Illinois.
According to the Sun-Times, the 38 cases at Advocate Lutheran General involved patients who underwent a procedure in which a scope is used to examine the stomach and intestines. It is called an ERCP procedure.
The CDC reports that previous studies have shown an association between the scopes used in ERCP procedures and “transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria.” The design of the scopes “might pose a particular challenge for cleaning and disinfection,” according to the CDC.
The Sun-Times reports that no problems have been found so far with the way the scopes at Advocate Lutheran General were disinfected. However, a hospital official told the newspaper that the facility has changed to a gas sterilization process that “exceeds the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and disinfectant guidelines.”
What Are Your Legal Options?
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., is closely monitoring investigations of the CRE outbreak at Advocate Lutheran General and in northeast Illinois. The firm’s lawyers are also analyzing cases to determine whether legal claims may be pursued.
Potential claims in CRE infection cases may arise from:
- Failure to properly clean and disinfect scopes used in ERCP procedures
- Failure to take preventive measures upon discovery of infections
- Failure to properly warn patients
- Defective design or manufacture of the device.
Infected patients may have suffered undue medical expenses, lost income and experienced pain, suffering and emotional distress as a result of this outbreak.
It is important to receive a thorough review of your medical malpractice case as soon as possible. Contact the Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., without delay by calling us toll-free or using our online form.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 3, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Lethal, Drug-Resistant Bacteria Spreading in U.S. Healthcare Facilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults, WebMd