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Some Summerlin hospital staff exposed to tuberculosis

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Updated: 10/07/2013 2:40 pm
LAS VEGAS — The Southern Nevada Health District is currently investigating a tuberculosis exposure that occurred via a patient within Summerlin Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit this past summer. Hospital management and staff have fully cooperated with every step of the investigation and continue to partner with the Health District to respond to this incident.

FYI: Tuberculosis germs are spread through the air when a person with active disease of the lungs or throat talks, coughs or sneezes. People with TB disease are most likely to spread TB to people they spend time with every day. TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, touching bed linens, door knobs, or toilet seats, sharing silverware, plates, or cups.
During the initial phase of the investigation it was determined that no NICU babies had close contact with the TB patient. In August, parents of the NICU babies received a letter from the Health District informing them of the investigation and the early findings. As part of this investigation, the Health District conducted ongoing surveillance and has now determined that the TB infection had spread to some hospital staff within the NICU.

While the risk of TB infection to babies who were exposed to a person with an active case of TB disease is still small, the Health District is now recommending TB testing for those babies and parents.

All NICU-affected families are being notified by the Health District. Other patients who were in the hospital during the impacted timeframe have not been found to be at increased risk for exposure to TB.

According to a news release from Summerlin Hospital, it continues to work with the Health District in its investigation.

The patient did not contract TB while at Summerlin Hospital but already had the disease upon their admission.

Working in conjunction with the Health District, Summerlin Hospital has offered to provide free chest X-rays to children who need additional follow-up.

During the Health District’s investigation, it was confirmed that hospital staff followed recommended guidelines.

“Our staff is vigilant in creating and maintaining the highest level of safety of patients and visitors,” said Robert Freymuller, CEO and Managing Director of Summerlin Hospital. “People with infectious diseases may visit many places until they are diagnosed and hospitalized. We use multiple precautions to contain, treat, and prevent germs from spreading to patients, visitors and staff, such as hand hygiene processes, protective equipment such as gowns, gloves, and masks, and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting processes.”

The Health District has set up a private clinic in order to provide testing for both the babies and parents. TB disease in babies is very serious and the Health District is working to coordinate all testing and treatment options with the families and their health care providers.

Members of the public who would like additional information about tuberculosis or this investigation may call the health district’s helpline at (702) 759-4636. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— From news release
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