E. coli outbreak linked to dirty hospital equipment
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that insufficient cleaning of a type of endoscope called a duodenoscope caused an E. coli outbreak at an Illinois hospital last year.
Forty patients became ill at the hospital, although none died
The dudenoscope is used to examine a patient’s intestines and has a more complex design than endoscopes used to perform colonscopies and thus are more difficult to clean. The hospital in question had been following proper disinfection protocol where they used manufacturer recommended disinfection method with a high-level disinfection chemical called ortho-phthaladehyde, but the outbreak indicated that this method of cleaning was not sufficient.
The hospital has since switched to a sterilization method with ethylene oxide gas--although this type of cleaning procedure is not viable for all hospitals due to the longer, more complicated process. This process, however, is not compatible with some endoscopic equipment and also has not received FDA approval.
Earlier this year, the CDC sent a notice to doctors to inform them about the risk of exposure to E. coli through duodenoscopes. But experts said manufacturers, as well as the FDA, will need to get involved in the discussion to ensure that bacteria aren't being spread through these devices in the future.