Health officials in Texas were testing some infants who they believe were exposed to tuberculosis (TB) at an El Paso hospital. More than 700 babies at the Providence Memorial Hospital were reported to have been exposed to a worker found to have the disease.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that a health care worker tested positive for TB after exposing the children at a nursery between September 2013 and last month. Officials used guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine how far back to test people who could have been exposed to the disease.
It was reported that the worker had symptoms as early as December. Local health officials did not know why the worker was not tested by the hospital until Aug. 21. Officials were also investigating how and when the worker became infected.
After the discovery of the infected employee, hospital regulators began an investigation and found several violations that were not specified. The initial inspection found that no other workers tested positive for active tuberculosis.
Anyone can get TB. However, people who have weak immune symptoms, including babies, are at greater risk of developing the serious disease. Infants, however, cannot spread the disease due to their lack of lung capacity. People who test positive for TB need to take several drugs for six to nine months.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that typically attacks the lungs and can be fatal if not quickly diagnosed and treated. It’s spread through the air when the infected person “coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings” and another person breathes in the bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While TB is no longer common in the United States, the risk of contracting TB remains a serious concern. This is especially true in hospitals and other healthcare facilities where the disease can easily be transmitted among patients and workers in tight, closed spaces such as patient rooms.
For individuals or their loved ones who have been diagnosed with TB during or soon after a hospital or healthcare facility stay, the cause of their illness may have been medical negligence. If a probable cause for filing a medical malpractice suit is found, an experience lawyer can help the victim and-or his or her family obtain the compensation they deserve, and possibly save other patients from suffering as a result of improper care from the same hospital or medical facility.
The Associated Press News story is “TB tests for babies when hospital worker diagnosed.”