Failure in Sterilization Process Led to Alabama IV Infections

A failure in a step of the sterilization process at a Birmingham, Ala., pharmacy is the likely cause of the infection that afflicted 19 patients in Alabama hospitals and resulted in nine deaths, according to a news release from the Alabama Department of Public Health.


Investigators from the ADPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the Serratia marcescens bacteremia which was present in 12 hospitalized patients who received total parenteral nutrition (TPN) produced by pharmacy Meds IV of Birmingham was also found on a container and stirrer used to mix IV supplements and on a tap water spigot used for rinsing the container at the pharmacy.


Genetic fingerprinting matched the organism found in the patients and the pharmacy.


The ADPH news release said the cause of the contamination of TPN — liquid nutrition fed through an IV using a catheter — was likely a failure in a step of the sterilization process during compounding of the IV feeding bags.


Illness with bacteremia occurred in approximately 35 percent of patients receiving the TPN from Meds IV.


The outbreak of Serratia marcescens bacteremia is still under investigation, according to the release.


Read the ADPH news release about the Alabama infection outbreak (pdf).

Read more about national infection issues:


- Rockingham Memorial Hospital's Infection Prevention Efforts Serve as Model for Virginia Hospitals


- Tennessee Hospitals Rethink Infection Prevention Efforts Following High Bloodstream Infection Rates


- Five Nevada Hospital Infection Bills Likely to Move Forward

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