27 women at South Carolina hospital develop bacterial infection after surgery: 8 things to know

After undergoing surgery at Charleston, S.C.-based Roper Hospital in 2016 and 2017, 27 women developed a waterborne bacterial infection that required a string of antibiotic treatments and additional surgeries, reports The Post and Courier.


 Here are eight things to know.

1. Most of the affected women acquired the infection after breast reconstruction surgery. Prior to the breast reconstruction surgery, a majority of the affected women had received a mastectomy because they were diagnosed with breast cancer or found out they had a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

2. Two patients developed the infection after an abdominal plastic surgery procedure and two more acquired the infection following a procedure related to a different cancer treatment.

3. Affected patients had to undergo additional surgery to drain fluid from their breasts and received months of antibiotic treatments.

4. Hospital leaders confirmed April 13 that the hospital's tap water tested positive for non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. It is unclear how the patients were infected or exposed to the tap water because the surgeons used sterile water. 

5. Following reports of the outbreak, the South Carolina Department of Health and the CDC began investigating Roper Hospital. This investigation was launched in July 2016. According to Todd Shuman, chief physician officer at Roper Hospital, federal and state officials have been unable to determine why other surgical patients weren't infected or why breast reconstruction patients were adversely affected.

6. As a result of the infections and ongoing investigation, the hospital's parent organization, Charleston-based Roper St. Francis, has moved all breast reconstruction surgeries to Mount Pleasant (S.C) Hospital and have installed filters to purify water at its Charleston campus.

7. The last infection of non-tuberculosis mycobacteria was reported 11 months ago. All patients who underwent breast reconstruction procedures have been notified.

8. None of the affected hospital patients have died, and the hospital does not face any legal threat at this time.

More articles on infection control:  
Human error source of Denver hospital's sterilization breach 
A. baumannii resistance among children rose significantly over 13-year period 
Colorado DOH confirms infections in 'a number of patients' who visited Denver hospital; link to breach unclear

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