Five more patients at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) have contracted the acinetobacter baumannii bacterium that killed two babies last month after officials said the germ spread to another wing in the hospital.
Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez announced in the House of Assembly Wednesday that ongoing investigations into exactly how the bacterium started have not yielded answers, but they did reveal that the deadly bug is no longer confined to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“As of yesterday (Wednesday), five new cases were identified, this time in the general Intensive Care Unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital,” he said. “Those affected, four adults and one child, none of them are ill.”
Two weeks after the outbreak was disclosed at (PMH) on July 18, doctors there said they still have no clue as to how the outbreak started.
While doctors have explained that this waterborne organism is common on intensive care units due to the heavy use of ventilators and water, Dr. Gomez pointed to a report released by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) last month which he said highlighted some “offending practices” at the hospital.
“A recent report by PAHO on infection control policies in the three hospitals of the Public Health Authority and released in early June 2012 identified a number of offending practices,” the new health minister said. “The report indicated that some of the corrective actions suggested as a result of the 1996 findings were systematically terminated.”
Despite claims that the bacterium was being controlled and was contained on the neonatal ward where it originated, Dr. Gomez disclosed in the House on Wednesday that the bacterium had now been found in the ICU, which is in a different place than the NICU.
All babies were tested for the bug in June, eight of them tested positive.
The first infected baby died on July 4 and the second on July 17.
“The third baby who had bloodstream infection has been treated and is well,” Dr. Gomez added. “The remaining five babies…are not ill.”
“The unit was closed to new admissions until the outbreak was controlled. All policies and procedures relative to control of the spread of infections were reviewed and strictly enforced.”
Nine babies died during the outbreak in 1996.
Dr. Gomez said the government is looking to bring in a noted Caribbean physician to conduct a review of the management of this investigation.
In the meantime, he added that former Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Hospitals of Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, Stan Read, has been in the country since last Thursday helping the team of doctors at PMH with their investigations.
Dr, Gomez said the PHA is sparing no efforts in ensuring that all is done to bring this matter to a close.
Additionally, the health minister the hospital administration failed to advise its own ministry in a timely manner of the outbreak, but told Opposition Leader and former Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis instead. Dr. Gomez calling on the opposition to “de-politicise” the issue and not use it to score political brownie points.