File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Drug-resistant bacteria kills 10 babies at Tembisa Hospital

By BOTHO MOLOSANKWE Time of article published Jan 20, 2020

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Johannesburg - A drug resistant bacteria that broke out at Tembisa Hospital claimed the lives of 10 babies in two months.

There was a Carbapenem-Resistant-Enterobacterales (CRE) breakout from November 1 to December 31 at the hospital's neonatal unit which affected 17 babies .

However, 10 died.

Overcrowding in the ward, staff shortage, infrastructure, inappropriate equipment storage and difficulty in isolating infected infants are some of the challenges believed to have led to the outbreak.

"Tembisa Hospital like many other health facilities in the province is faced with the challenge of ever increasing demand for services. The 44-bed neonatal unit often admits close to 90 patients. 

"Whilst the department is looking at improving the hospital infrastructure it is doing its utmost best to serve patients with respect and dignity," the Gauteng Department of Health said.

The department also said there was suspicion that Klebsiella pneumoniae was the organism responsible for the outbreak of CRE.

In 2018, klebsiella pneumoniae and necrotising enterocolitis killed 15 infants in Gauteng hospitals.

"CRE are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. They can cause deadly infections in your bloodstream, lungs and urinary tract, including pneumonia and meningitis.

"A stakeholders meeting which consisted of Hospital Services Directorate, Tshwane District Microbiology team and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) was convened on the January 6 2020 to discuss challenges of overcrowding in the ward, staff shortage, infrastructure, inappropriate equipment storage and difficult in isolating infected infants," the department said in a statement."

The department said following the outbreak, measures have been taken to prevent further infections in the neonatal unit such as deploying additional professional nurses, diverting new admissions to the Kalafong Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital  as well as the conducting of external infection prevention and control audit

Other measures include having the National Health Laboratory Services Infection Control Service provide technical support assistance to audit Gauteng Department of Health Neonatal Units and the NICD to allocate resources to develop a dashboard to monitor laboratory confirmed neonatal infections at facility level.

"The Department remains committed to improving patients’ experience of care and the delivery of quality healthcare services," the department said.

The Star

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