Lawsuit Filed After Three Premature Babies Die, Five Others Get Sick from Donor Breast Milk Contaminated by Hospital Equipment

Three premature babies in the NICU at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania died after ingesting contaminated breast milk, according to a recent investigation by the state health department.

Eight NICU babies became sick with a serious bacterial infection, with three babies ultimately dying. It was found that tainted equipment that had been used to measure donor breast milk caused the infection. The breast milk was not contaminated, but the equipment was found to have Pseudomonas bacterium, according to a hospital spokesperson.

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After the investigation was completed, the hospital removed the equipment and switched to a single-use model to ensure there was no further contamination. Some premature babies and expectant mothers have also been transferred to other facilities until a new process is put in place.

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lawsuit filed after three premature babies die, five others get sick from donor breast milk contaminated by hospital equipment
CREDIT: Shutterstock

“We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from Pseudomonas in the NICU since making this change,” said Dr. Edward Hartle, Geisinger’s executive vice president and chief medical officer.

“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the families who have been affected by this incident,” Hartle continued in a statement obtained by CBS News. “We know that the public holds us to the highest standards, and we will continue to strive to live up to those expectations as we have throughout our history, constantly improving on what we do and how we do it.”

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lawsuit filed after three premature babies die, five others get sick from donor breast milk contaminated by hospital equipment
CREDIT: Shutterstock

CBS News also reported that one of the families who lost their baby has already filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

“A key aspect is to determine whether this was an ongoing problem there,” Matt Casey, the family’s attorney, told the Associated Press last week. “We now have additional work to determine whether these infection control procedures were deficient for a period of time longer than Geisinger’s statement suggests.”

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Pseudomonas bacteria occurs naturally in the environment and is typically harmless, though poses a risk to patients with already compromised immune systems.

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