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Hartford Hospital warns 281 patients of possible exposure to E. coli

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HARTFORD-- Doctors at Hartford Hospital announced Wednesday afternoon that 281 patients may have come into contact with a tough strain of E. coli over the past year.

"The scopes were contaminated with a particular bacterial organism, and in our principal of transparency we are notifying those patients who were exposed," said Dr. Rocco Orlando of Hartford Hospital.

The hospital says that during routine monitoring it was found that this risk is associated with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, procedures.

While this is not the same E. coli strain as the superbug one that was reported in California hospitals as having killed two and possibly infected more than 100 others, it was transmitted through the same type of device, a duodenoscope.

The hospital says they don't believe any patients are at risk, but they are reaching out to the 281 patients who had an ERCP recently and may have possibly come in contact with this strand of E. coli. They have asked those patients to come in for screening.

In addition, the hospital says that the process for cleaning endoscopes was properly followed, but the devices used were the same ones that had the design flaw that led to the deaths of two patients at UCLA Hospital, leading the devices to be hard to disinfect.

"The organism that we cultured from these scopes is not a resistant organism. The West Coast organism is highly resistant and does not respond all antibiotics. That is not what we've seen here," said Orlando.

Those devices are no longer being used at Hartford Hospital, or any facility within the Hartford Healthcare system.

"As soon as we became aware of it, we withdrew the scope from general use and are now using an older model of the scope that isn't associated with this problem," said Orlando.

Related stories:

FDA: Manufacturer never had permission to sell device connected to superbug deaths

Scope superbug: How long did the FDA know about problem?

Drug-resistant bacteria linked to two deaths at UCLA hospital

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