Contaminated syringes have been blamed for a deadly outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia bacteria that has infected nearly 150 people since August, including 52 cases in New Jersey. According the CDC “the majority of these cases have occurred in patients residing at long-term care or rehabilitation facilities who were receiving intravenous (IV) fluids and/or antibiotics through central venous catheters.” The outbreak may be linked to the deaths of six people who contracted the bacteria in the states of New York and Pennsylvania. The locations and number of known infections are detailed in the chart below:
The bacteria, commonly known as B. cepacia, has been linked to the Nurse Assist prefilled saline flush syringes which the manufacturer voluntarily recalled on October 4, 2016. All nursing home and other medical facilities are instructed to stop using the items, sequester any items in the facility, and report all infections to local and state health authorities.
Perhaps most disturbing is that B. cepacia is reported as resistant to many common antibiotics. This resistance can mean that nursing home and hospital patients are at greater risk of severe illness, complications, or death due to their suppressed immune systems and underlying health problems. If a family member or friend is exhibiting signs or symptoms you should immediately contact the doctor to arrange for a blood test. The CDC lists symptoms of a B. cepacia bloodstream infection as:
- Chills or shivering
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
If someone you know has been infected, you should contact an experienced lawyer who knows patient care rules, regulations, and laws and can advise you on your rights and remedies. Again, if you suspect an infection, immediately notify the patient’s doctor so that proper tests and diagnoses can be made.