After one patient died and two were sickened by Legionnaires’ disease in November and December at UPMC Presbyterian, where they contracted the disease, UPMC has a message for hospitals nationwide.
“Hospitals in the U.S.: If you have not been looking in ice machines for Legionella, please look,” Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality control officer, said Friday. “That’s the message.”
The three hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ cases were the first to occur in more than two years at UPMC Presbyterian, she said, and led to a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all of the hospital system’s 500 ice machines in 20 hospitals — including 80 machines in Presbyterian.
Although the cases occurred about five months ago, Ms. Minnier said that UPMC began talking publicly about it this week because it had a difficult time finding existing hospital protocols on Legionnaires’ disease and ice machines and little discussion about the issue around the country.
The second goal of going public, she conceded, was to make sure the public did not put UPMC in the same boat as the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. The VA was lambasted with criticism over the past 1½ years for how it dealt with an Legionnaires’ outbreak here that infected at least 22 veterans, six of whom died over a 16-month period in 2011 and 2012.