Nine Deaths from IV Infections

[image: vistavision via Flickr]

Nine people have died, and twenty others have been hospitalized in Alabama after being infected with Serratia marcescens, a deadly bacteria. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigators linked the bacteria to a local pharmacy.

The pharmacy, IV Meds, of Birmingham, had prepared the intravenous feeding solutions that were administered to all of the patients in six hospitals in the state. Bacteria in their blood matched bacteria in a bag of the suspect product found in the pharmacy, he said.

“Now it’s just a matter of identifying the source of it from the pharmacy other than from the bag,” said Dr. Mary McIntyre, a medical officer with the Bureau of Communicable Disease within the Alabama Department of Public Health. “That’s still ongoing.”

She said the same bacteria — called Serratia marcescens — were also found on a swab from a water faucet inside the pharmacy. McIntyre described IV Meds as a small business that had one full-time staff pharmacist. The company’s website has been taken down and calls to the business have gone unanswered.

Six Alabama hospitals admitted patients who had been infected with the bacteria: Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Shelby Baptist Medical Center, Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, Medical West, Prattville Baptist Hospital and Select Specialty Hospital.

While investigators have linked the bacteria to the pharmacy, they haven’t yet deduced how the bacteria transferred to the IV bags.

The family of Mary Ellen Kise, one of the victims, has filed a lawsuit, and six other families have contacted lawyers.

The CDC has issued new guidelines for IV Catheter Infection Prevention as a result. They can be viewed here.