Contamination scare at Crumlin Children’s Hospital

Some 18 children are affected after instrument found to be infected

Crumlin Children’s Hospital is continuing its attempts to contact the families of 18 children who are involved in a contamination scare at the hospital.

Crumlin Children’s Hospital is continuing its attempts to contact the families of 18 children who are involved in a contamination scare at the hospital.

Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 06:49

Our Lady’s Children's Hospital Crumlin, Dublin was last night attempting to contact the families of 18 children who are involved in a contamination scare at the hospital.

The issue at the hospital arose on Saturday, July 6th when staff became aware of “a microbiological growth” on a colonoscope following routine sterilisation. Colonoscopes are instruments with which colonoscopies are performed to examine the inside of the bowel.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the instrument in question was “immediately quarantined” and tests were then carried out on all scopes.

The growth on the scope which caused concern was identified as an ESBL or extended spectrum beta lactamases, which are bugs that live in the bowel. The hospital said there was “no immediate impact” on children’s health.

ESBLs are produced by bacteria to combat the threat posed to them by the rise in use of antibiotics. They in effect break down the commoner antibiotics and can make infections more difficult to treat.


Identified
The hospital said last night it “immediately” began to trace children who had colonoscopies using this particular scope between May 17th and July 5th. Some 18 patients were identified – and of these 15 families have been notified. There are three remaining families who have not been contacted yet because they have not answered their phones.

Follow-up letters, an information pack and a sample testing kit is being issued to each family – and they will be “immediately” notified of results, said the spokeswoman.

“If any child is found to be positive, the hospital will arrange to meet the family and will provide them with all the necessary information and support.” A positive screen “has no immediate impact” for patients, she added, but it may affect the first line antibiotics chosen to treat the child if they show signs of infection.

The hospital apologised for any distress caused.

A consultant microbiologist told The Irish Times last night that if an infection develops, ESBL producing bacteria makes it “very much more difficult to treat”. For most patients, they do not cause infection - but this can occur for patients when they need intensive care or while receiving chemotherapy.

“The complexity of what you’re doing is increased,” he said. “Patients may not respond as well, and you may not know what you’re dealing with, so you may lose some time in terms of getting the patient on the right treatment.”