Charité: No hygiene problems due to germ contamination

Charité: No hygiene problems due to germ contamination

Baby died of germ contamination at Berlin Charité - public prosecutor determined

After a newborn baby died in the Berlin Charité on 5 October due to infection with Serratia germs, the public prosecutor's office investigated the negligent killing. So far it is still unclear how the 22 affected babies could become infected. The Charité's premature baby unit is to remain closed until complete clarification. The clinic rejects the accusation of poor hygiene.

Another child infected with germs at the Berlin Heart Center
The deceased child was born with a heart defect and was therefore transferred from the premature ward to the German Heart Center. There a second child became infected with the germ. The boy was transferred from a Potsdam clinic to the heart center and, like the baby who later died, was operated on October 2, as the director of the clinic for congenital heart defects and pediatric cardiology, Felix Berger, announced. The boy was lying next to the sick child and was probably infected there. The doctors assume that the Serratien germs came to the heart center with the child who later died.

Antibiotic therapy was successful with the boy, so that the child could be released today, Berger said. Infection with Serratien germs is only life-threatening for people with a severely weakened immune system such as premature babies. The boy had not been born prematurely, but he had a serious heart defect, so that he was initially treated in one of the Charité's preterm labor ward. From there he was transferred to the heart center as an emergency.

Stop admission to Charité premature wards due to germ contamination At the press conference of the Heart Center and Charité last Tuesday it was said that the premature baby was most likely infected by his mother during the birth in July. After that, the child infected another baby. By September there were no new infections.

The Charité's premature infants' wards remain closed until the patient has been fully diagnosed due to the infection with Serratia germs, said Ulrich Frei, Medical Director. A total of 22 of the 40 premature babies were found to have the germs. Seven babies were ill. However, the condition of all affected children is stable, as the head of the premature baby station, Christoph Bührer, said at the press conference. After one child died of an infection on October 5 and two other children were found to be infected on October 8, the Charité decided to screen all premature babies, in which the other cases were determined, as the clinic announced. Subsequently, an immediate admission stop for the affected preterm infants was arranged.

According to the head of hygiene and environmental medicine in the Mitte district, Karl Schenkel, three wards in the maternity clinic and two in the heart center are affected, whereby a maternity ward is now germ-free. "The exact number of bacterial colonies can change every minute." Since an admission stop for the highly specialized heart center is unthinkable, emergencies would still be accepted there. However, parents are advised to switch to another clinic if their children can have operations planned.

Has Charité neglected to register due to germ contamination? Allegations of possible lack of hygiene are becoming louder and louder. However, the medical director firmly rejected all allegations. The neonatal intensive care unit is characterized by highly qualified and particularly motivated staff. He ruled out the lack of hygiene measures and the dismissal of employees required by critics. The staffing of the premature babies was just under the three nurses per bed required by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), but with overtime, 2.85 to 2.91 employees were responsible for each bed. That is justifiable.

As Schenkel explained, efforts are being made to find the source of the infection. Over a hundred samples have already been examined, including soaps or disinfectants. Nevertheless, "nothing that points the way forward" has so far emerged. The head of hygiene and environmental medicine in the Mitte district considers it possible that the exact cause cannot be found. However, hygiene is meticulously checked in the hospital.

As Schenkel further reported, there were further outbreaks of germs from July - the suspected time of infection of the first child - until October. A total of 20 to 30 people were affected in the Charité Virchow Clinic. However, since these were isolated cases and some of the stations were sterile for a long time, there was no report. Official notification is only required if at least two patients are affected. Schenkel pointed out that the Charité "did not recognize the connection between the cases". In retrospect, those responsible took the necessary measures just in time. The health department has nevertheless commenced its investigation and is currently examining whether the Charité has neglected its reporting obligation since July, explained Anke Elvers-Schreiber, medical officer in Mitte.

Allegations against crisis management by the Charité are getting louder "We still do not know what the causes of the germ infestation are," said Ulrich Fegeler, spokesman for the Berlin pediatricians. “It is dubious and unfair to blame doctors or nurses for speculation. I know what they are doing at the prematurely ward. ”Nevertheless, the allegations against the crisis management of the Charité are getting louder.

As Petra Gastmeier, head of the Hygiene Institute at Charité, reported, the Virchow Clinic has so far not attracted negative attention. It even did exceptionally well in the consumption of hand disinfectants. It would also investigate indications that a baby bath could be the source of germs that the Rossmann company had already taken out of the market. A Charité press release states: “The team of experts called on continues to search for the source of the infection at high pressure. The admission freeze for the two affected stations remains. "

As the public prosecutor announced, the cause of the germ contamination and the resulting criminal allegations should be clarified in an investigation. Health Senator Mario Czaja (CDU) and Science Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) have not yet commented on the allegations. The Uni-Klinikum belongs to Scheeres' area of ​​responsibility.

Expert opinion makes personnel shortage responsible for the bacterial load in the Bremen clinic In May this year and at the end of last year, multi-resistant pathogens were detected in the Bremen-Mitte clinic, which led to the death of three premature babies at the end of 2011. The Bremen Senator for Health, Renate Jürgens-Pieper (SPD), recently criticized the expert Professor Walter Popp on the citizens' committee of inquiry. The hygienist did not receive all the files from the public prosecutor's office and therefore drew "incorrect conclusions". Popp had pointed out in his report that the premature baby's death due to the bacterial load was due to various grievances. In his opinion, the senator and the clinic management are jointly responsible for the hygiene scandal, since they had not taken care of enough staff in the premature ward. (ag)

Image: Karl-Heinz Liebisch /

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