Original Publication Date
The New England Journal of Medicine
DOI of Original Publication
Date of Submission
From June 30, 1998, through March 21, 1999, several patients in the surgical intensive care unit of a hospital acquired Serratia marcescens bacteremia. We investigated this outbreak.
A case was defined as the occurrence of S. marcescens bacteremia in any patient in the surgical intensive care unit during the period of the epidemic. To identify risk factors, we compared patients with S. marcescens bacteremia with randomly selected controls. Isolates from patients and from medications were evaluated by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The hair of one employee was tested for fentanyl.
Twenty-six patients with S. marcescens bacteremia were identified; eight (31 percent) had polymicrobial bacteremia, and seven of these had Enterobacter cloacae and S. marcescens in the same culture. According to univariate analysis, patients with S. marcescensbacteremia stayed in the surgical intensive care unit longer than controls (13.5 vs. 4.0 days, PS. marcescens and E. cloacae. The isolates from the case patients and from the fentanyl infusions had similar patterns on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. After removal of the implicated respiratory therapist, no further cases occurred.
An outbreak of S. marcescens and E. cloacae bacteremia in a surgical intensive care unit was traced to extrinsic contamination of the parenteral narcotic fentanyl by a health care worker. Our findings underscore the risk of complications in patients that is associated with illicit narcotic use by health care workers.
From The New England Journal of Medicine, Ostrowsky, B.E., Whitener, C., Bredenberg, H.K., et al., Serratia marcescens bacteremia traced to an infused narcotic, Vol. 346, Page 1529, Copyright © 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.
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VCU Family Medicine and Population Health Publications