To describe the investigation and control of a cluster of Serratia marcescens bacteremia in a 505-bed tertiary-care center.
Cluster cases were defined as all patients with S. marcescens bacteremia between March 2 and April 7, 2014, who were found to have identical or related blood isolates determined by molecular typing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Cases were compared using bivariate analysis with controls admitted at the same time and to the same service as the cases, in a 4:1 ratio.
In total, 6 patients developed S. marcescens bacteremia within 48 hours after admission within the above period. Of these, 5 patients had identical Serratia isolates determined by molecular typing, and were included in a case-control study. Exposure to the post-anesthesia care unit was a risk factor identified in bivariate analysis. Evidence of tampered opioid-containing syringes on several hospital units was discovered soon after the initial cluster case presented, and a full narcotic diversion investigation was conducted. A nurse working in the post-anesthesia care unit was identified as the employee responsible for the drug diversion and was epidemiologically linked to all 5 patients in the cluster. No further cases were identified once the implicated employee’s job was terminated.
Illicit drug use by healthcare workers remains an important mechanism for the development of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients. Active mechanisms and systems should remain in place to prevent, detect, and control narcotic drug diversions and associated patient harm in the healthcare setting.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2017;38:1027–1031