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A cluster of patients with respiratory cultures positive for Pseudomonas aeruginosa with a unique antibiogram was observed during June and July 2007 at a 1,000-bed urban teaching hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. These P. aeruginosa isolates were recovered from bronchoscopically obtained specimens.
A cross-sectional study was performed to assess whether the cluster was associated with exposure to a particular bronchoscope (B1); cultures from specimens from the bronchoscopes and the environment were obtained, and the P. aeruginosa isolate type was determined using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Records of patients exposed to B1 during the cluster period were reviewed.
Twelve patients with a culture positive for P. aeruginosa with the unique susceptibility pattern were identified in June-July 2007. No cases were documented from March 1 through May 31, 2007. Culture specimens obtained from B1 after high-level disinfection revealed P. aeruginosa, prompting removal of B1 from service on July 23, 2007. No cases occurred after that date. Eleven (55%) of 20 patients who were exposed to Bl during the cluster period had a culture positive for P. aeruginosa, compared with 1 (2%) of 53 patients who were exposed to other bronchoscopes (P < .001). PFGE patterns for P. aeruginosa isolates obtained from case patients and from B1 were identical. An engineering evaluation of B1 documented several internal damages. Two (10.5%) of 19 patients exposed to Bl during the cluster period may have developed P. aeruginosa infection following exposure to B1.
An outbreak or pseudo-outbreak of P. aeruginosa infection occurred in association with use of a damaged bronchoscope. Periodic engineering maintenance may be needed to prevent bronchoscope contamination that is resistant to high-level disinfection.