Maryland hospital NICU reopens 4 months after investigation into bacteria outbreak

The neonatal intensive care unit at Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., reopened Monday, four months after federal investigators started looking into how a potentially deadly bacteria entered the unit.

Pseudomonas was first discovered in the NICU in August, and nine babies — three of whom tested positive for the bacteria — were transferred to another hospital. Prince George's shut down the NICU that month, pinpointed the bacteria's source, and reopened the unit after tests showed the water supply to be free of bacteria.

However, two babies tested positive for Pseudomonas again in November, according to NBC 4 Washington. The NICU was again shut down and six babies were transferred, according to The Washington Post.

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After the November discovery, CDC and state investigators searched for the source of the bacteria. However, they found no source other than the plumbing.

Prince George's and its parent system, Dimensions Healthcare Systems, have since invested more than half a million dollars into a water treatment system and implemented new protocols for hand-washing and water testing, according to The Washington Post.

"Currently, we have had no bacteria in the water system," Sherry Perkins, COO of Dimensions Healthcare Systems, told the Post. "I feel confident that the water treatment plan will make us among the safest NICUs in the country."

Pseudomonas is found widely in the environment, and serious infections usually occur only in people in the hospital or who have weakened immune systems. According to the CDC, in hospitals, the bacteria usually spread on healthcare workers' hands or by equipment that isn't properly cleaned.

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