Deaths of 3 babies, illness in 5 others linked to donor breast milk preparation

National News

WILKES-BARRE, Pa (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Geisinger Medical Center is speaking out for the second time since eight premature babies were exposed to pseudomonas bacteria while being treated inside the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit

The babies contracted the bacteria between July and September three babies died as a result.

 “We know pseudomonas is a common organism. We know that it likes and grows in water. We looked in those places,” said Dr. Rosemary Leeming Chief Medical Officer Of Geisinger Medical Center. 

She says testing revealed the bacteria came from equipment used to measure donor breast milk, plus brushes used to clean the utensils. 

“The cylinder and the brush matches the organisms that infected the babies. We know that.”

Since the end of September the hospital switched over to a single-use equipment to measure and administer the breast milk.

Since implementing the single-use, The Pennsylvania Department of Health cited the hospital for not having a policy in place for the new process.

“I would say that we did as much as we could as quickly as we could have,” added Dr. Leeming.

“It’s well known in a NICU like that must have — must have policies to address and prevent that kind of bacteria from affecting these babies” Said Attorney Matt Casey.

Attorney Matt Casey is representing two families who lost their newborns to the outbreak.

One family filed a lawsuit against Geisinger last month. Casey says with the bacteria source found this is just the tip of the iceberg in the investigation.

“I spoke to my clients last night and one, in particular, spent last night crying in tears knowing uh that uh again receiving further confirmation that this was preventable. That her son’s death was preventable.”  Said Attorney Casey.

Keeping with the policy Geisinger temporarily instituted last month, it’s diverting mothers who are delivering babies 32 weeks or less to its Wilkes-Barre NICU or partnering hospitals in Philadelphia and or Hershey.

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