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To assess nosocomial transmission of imipenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (IRPA) following bronchoscopy during August through October 1998.
Traditional and molecular epidemiological investigation of a case series.
University-affiliated community hospital.
18 patients with IRPA bronchial-wash isolates.
We reviewed clinical data, performed environmental cultures and molecular analysis of all IRPA isolates, and observed disinfection of bronchoscopes.
Of 18 patients who had IRPA isolated from bronchoscopic or postbronchoscopic specimens, 13 underwent bronchoscopy for possible malignancy or undiagnosed pulmonary infiltrates. Following bronchoscopy, 3 patients continued to have IRPA isolated from sputum and demonstrated clinical evidence of infection requiring specific antimicrobial therapy. The remaining 15 patients had no further IRPA isolated and remained clinically well 3 months following bronchoscopy. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed that all strains except one were >95% related. STERIS SYSTEM 1 had been implemented in July 1998 as an automatic endoscope reprocessor (AER) for all endoscopes and bronchoscopes. Inspection of bronchoscope sterilization cycles revealed incorrect connectors joining the bronchoscope suction channel to the STERIS SYSTEM 1 processor, obstructing peracetic acid flow through the bronchoscope lumen. No malfunction warning was received, and spore strips remained negative.
The similarity of diverse connectors and limited training by the manufacturer regarding AER for bronchoscopes were the two factors responsible for the outbreak. Appropriate connections were implemented, and there was no further bronchoscope contamination. We suggest active surveillance of all bronchoscopy specimen cultures, standardization of connectors of various scopes and automated processors, and systematic education of staff by manufacturers with periodic on-site observation.
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