Hospital where 3 preemies died determines source of bacteria


DANVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Geisinger has determined the source of bacteria linked to the deaths of three infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at its hospital in Danville.

The medical provider has concluded the exposure came from a process it was using to measure donor breast milk, Geisinger executive vice president and chief medical officer Edward Hartle said Friday.

Eight infants were infected by the pseudomonas bacterium, which presents a health risk to extremely fragile patients. Two of those babies continue to receive treatment for the infection.

Hartle said the hospital on Sept. 30 began using single-use equipment to measure and administer donor breast milk. “We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from pseudomonas in the NICU since making this change,” he said in a statement.

The Department of Health visited the Danville campus on Oct. 18 and cited the hospital for not having a written policy for cleaning equipment used to measure donor breast milk to reflect the changes made on Sept. 30.

Hartle said Geisinger immediately drafted a new policy.

“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the families who have been affected by this incident,” Hartle said. “We know that the public holds us to the highest standards, and we will continue to strive to live up to those expectations as we have throughout our history, constantly improving on what we do and how we do it.”

Hartle said the donor breast milk at Geisinger is safe and the hospital is certain the milk itself was not the cause of the exposure.

The hospital last month began sending very premature newborns and some expectant mothers to other facilities while officials investigate, the hospital said.

Geisinger will remain on diversion for mothers delivering at less than 32 weeks and babies born prematurely at less than 32 weeks while officials consult with the Health Department on the appropriate time to resume normal operations.

A hotline has been established for people who may have questions regarding the announcement. The hotline numbers are 570-214-9087 and 570-214-9088.

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