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Hospital Cited Over Deadly Infections

California health officials cited White Memorial Medical Center for hospital errors including failing to sterilize medical instruments, which led to a bacterial outbreak, and eventually caused the deaths and injuries of numerous newborn babies in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

White Memorial closed its neonatal intensive care unit last month when an outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa sickened at least five babies, killing at least two. The facility later reopened.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium often found in water and soil. It can be spread through body fluids and physical contact.

It can be dangerous and even deadly to people with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS patients, or premature babies.

The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) criticized the way the intensive care unit staff cleaned laryngoscope blades, which are used for inserting breathing tubes. The blades were cleaned with tap water, soap, and alcohol wipes. This cleaning procedure does not comply with the manufacturer’s recommended sterilization methods, the report said.

The hospital’s director of infection control and risk management told inspectors “the practice was unapproved, and there was no training, no competency and no monitoring of the procedure,” said the report.

The Hospital’s Response

White Memorial Hospital said in a written statement that the CDHS’ report “simply confirms the hospital’s preliminary findings.”

The hospital said it is working closely with Los Angeles County health officials and other experts to ensure that all of the hospital’s departments obey medical equipment cleaning policies.

Another Outbreak


White memorial later closed its pediatric intensive care unit when two other children were found to have Pseudomonas infections. Officials later found that those cases were not related to the original outbreak, and the unit reopened.

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