By Tom Watkins, CNN, March 30, 2011:
(CNN) -- Alabama health officials Wednesday continued their investigation into what role a bacterial infection that was spread intravenously had in the deaths of nine hospital patients.
Of 19 patients who were infected after they were fed intravenously, nine died in six different Alabama hospitals. The 10 others were reportedly not doing very well.
In the short term, the infected IV bags have been removed from the hospitals and recalled, said Dr. Don Williamson of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
"For the pharmacy and these patients, this is now a closed loop," he said. "The bigger challenge is how did this happen, and what can be done to reduce the risk of contamination in the future."
The bacteria, identified as serratia marcescens bacteremia, can prove fatal, though investigators -- including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- have not determined that they caused the deaths, he said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
The rod-shaped bacteria that were discovered in bags used in intravenous feeding -- also referred to as total parenteral nutrition -- would have entered the bloodstream easily and "with a pretty quick effect in terms of blood pressure and temperature," he said. Read more>>