Premature babies with bacterial infection die in New Jersey

- Two more premature infants with a bacterial infection have died, New Jersey officials said. They died last week and were not identified.

The state Health Department is investigating the A. baumannii outbreak at University Hospital in Newark and said Tuesday that the infants had confirmed cases of the bacteria.

A third infant with the bacteria was previously reported to have died.

The department said the two infants contracted the infection six weeks ago but had other medical conditions due to being born premature, meaning the bacterial infection may not be the cause of death. A survey team is on site and investigating the hospital's policies.

In a statement, the hospital said there have been no new cases in the neonatal intensive care unit since October. The facility added that it was working to control the outbreak and reinforcing proper procedures.

State officials first became aware of the infection last month when four cases were confirmed.

The fourth infant was discharged last month.

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Statement from University Hospital

University Hospital is committed to patient safety and to caring for all members of our community. We are continuing our push to create a culture that focuses on providing high quality and safe health care – from every single employee, every single day. We have worked diligently since the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria was discovered in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to control the outbreak, and there have been no new cases in the NICU since October. We continue to reinforce proper procedures and protocols with our team. We also will continue to work closely with state and local officials to address this issue and to address the broader health care needs and concerns of Newark and our surrounding communities."

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Statement from the New Jersey Department of Health

The Department first became aware of this bacterial infection on October 1, when two cases of A. baumannii were confirmed in the NICU. Two additional cases were confirmed in lab tests later in October. Of these four confirmed cases, three of the infants have died. On October 25, the Department reported in a press release that a premature infant who had been cared for at University Hospital and had the bacteria was transferred to another facility and passed away at the end of September, before the Department was notified of infections in the NICU. The fourth infant was discharged at the end of last month. The Department ordered a Directed Plan of Correction on October 25 that required University Hospital to hire a full-time Certified Infection Control Practitioner to guide efforts."

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Statement from Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka

The deaths of three premature infants with an Acinetobacter bacteria and the infection of a fourth, all cared for at University Hospital, are stark reminders that an overhaul of the quality of care and the leadership of the hospital is urgently needed. The infants had a variety of other medical conditions, but the fact remains that they contracted the bacteria in the hospital's neonatal ICU. The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness will work collaboratively with the New Jersey State Department of Health to continue careful monitoring of the situation in that unit."

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