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UF Health Shands Gainesville looking into infection protocols after outbreak

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Updated: 7/31/2013 7:34 am
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After a bacterial outbreak infected seven burn patients, UF Health Shands Gainesville will be looking to improve sanitation procedures and infection protocols.

A hospital infection team is scrubbing surfaces to make sure the bacteria has not spread to other parts of the hospital. The burn unit will be decontaminated and completely renovated in light of the outbreak.

The hospital chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Flynn, says they still don't know how the bacteria known as acinetobacter baumannii seeped into their certified burn unit.

The bacteria was first detected in one patient in March. Later, more patients were infected forcing them to close the burn unit.

"This is an organism that's a problem for the highly immunocompromised very debilitated patients in the burn unit," said Dr. Timothy Flynn, Chief Medical Officer of UF Health Shands Gainesville.

The bacteria is usually found in dirt but can also be found on virtually every surface. Because the bacteria is so resilient, there is only one antibiotic that works against it, the downside is that it is toxic to the patient's kidneys.

Because of the outbreak, Dr. Flynn says, the hospital will re-visit their infection protocols.

"We're emphasizing hand washing, we're looking at our isolation procedures," said Dr. Flynn. "We're taking this as an opportunity to focus more heavily."

The last patient to be infected has recently tested negative. Dr. Flynn says no one is currently infected but would not comment on their condition.

One person who was injured in the propane gas tank explosion in Tavares is being treated at UF Health Shands Gainesvlle. That patient, who is in critical condition, has been admitted in one of the hospital's eight intensive care units. All burn patients will be treated in the ICU while the burn unit is decontaminated and revamped.

"We have capacity to take in new patients if we get to the point where we get overwhelmed we'll announce that," said Dr. Flynn.

According to Dr. Flynn, the renovation won't be completed for at least six months.

Only Gainesville, Miami, and Tampa have certified burn units.
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