Legionnaires’ Disease Research Finds Hospital Outbreak

Legionnaires’ disease (LD) can be contracted at a hospital or nursing home if a water system at the facility is contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Prevention is critical because LD causes a pneumonia (lung infection) that has a 30% fatality rate, and it starts with disinfection of the water systems. You can click here now if you want to sue a hospital or nursing home for Legionnaires’ disease.

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Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman help legionellosis victims. You can click here now if you want a free consultation. Find our if you can sue a hospital for Legionnaires’ disease.

One method of prevention is using copper-silver ionization to continuously disinfect the water system. Recently published research1 looked at LD cases at an urban hospital that uses copper-silver ionization. The researchers looked through medical records for patients diagnosed with LD during a year. They determined which cases were healthcare-associated (contracted while in the hospital) by looking at where patients were during the LD incubation period (2 to 14 days after exposure to Legionella).

They also collected 25 water samples to test for Legionella and measured 11 of them for copper and silver ion concentrations.  All but 2 of the water samples tested positive for Legionella, even though “mean copper and silver concentrates were at or above the manufacturer’s recommended target for Legionella control.” Eleven of the Legionella isolates were identical to 3 isolates from the LD patients.

An outbreak of illness is defined by the CDC as 2 or more people sickened by the same source. Given this definition, the research uncovered an outbreak associated with the hospital, even though copper-silver ionization was used to prevent LD.

This research supports the CDC recommendation for healthcare facilities to have a high suspicion for healthcare-associated LD.  When an outbreak is established, those sickened have personal injury claims and the families of those who did not survive have wrongful death claims.

1. Demirjian, Alicia, et al. “The Importance of Clinical Surveillance in Detecting Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks: A Large Outbreak in a Hospital With a Legionella Disinfection System—Pennsylvania, 2011–2012.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 60.11 (2015): 1596-1602.

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Category: Legionnaires' Disease
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