Hospital baby deaths linked to bacteria in donor breast milk

Mothers are being warned to check shared breast milk before feeding their babies.

November 10 2019

Preparation error

"We have concluded that the exposure came from the process we were using to prepare donor breast milk," said Edward Hartle, Geisinger executive vice president and chief medical officer.

Specifically, the exposure came from equipment used to measure breast milk, which "helps premature infants with their nutritional needs," Hartle's statement read.

"Since September 30, we have changed this process, and have been using single-use equipment to measure and administer donor breast milk," Hartle said.

"We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from pseudomonas in the (neonatal intensive care unit) since making this change."



No written policy

The Pennsylvania Department of Health visited Geisinger Medical Center on October 18 and cited the hospital for not having a written policy for cleaning the measurement equipment.

"We immediately corrected the citation and drafted a new policy," Hartle said.

Hartle emphasized that donor breast milk is now safe.

"We are certain the milk itself was not the cause of the exposure," he said.

Mothers delivering premature babies will be sent to another hospital until normal operations can resume at Geisinger, the statement read.

"We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the families who have been affected by this incident," Hartle's statement read.

"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."

Watch: Breastfeeding Rooms Now Required In US Airports

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