RID wins, secrecy loses

After RID files Freedom of Information Act request,

NY State discloses which hospitals have Candida auris

November 14, 2019

New York State is finally levelling with the public, disclosing which hospitals in the state are struggling with a killer infection, Candida auris. It’s so deadly that 45% of patients who contract it die within 90 days. For several years, state health authorities kept the public in the dark, but on Wednesday they released a list of 65 hospitals, almost all in New York City, that have been affected.
“Making this information public is a victory for Reduce Infection Deaths, says RID chairman Betsy McCaughey. RID filed a Freedom of Information Request on May 17, because patients and their families have a right to know where this lethal germ is. The state gave us the run around for months, even though a law RID fought hard to get passed entitles consumers to know the infection rates in hospitals.”

Yet, it’s a pyrrhic victory, too long in the making. Delaying the release of the information cost lives and enabled the germ to spread, even becoming endemic in some hospitals. As of 2016, 5 hospitals in Manhattan were affected, now that number has soared to 15; In 2016, only one hospital outside the five boroughs was affected. Now the germ has spread to Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Albany, and Rockland counties and beyond. “Delay” is deadly, McCaughey explains.
Candida auris is especially dangerous, because once it gets inside a hospital, it spreads. Patients with the fungus on their skin shed it, putting everyone around them at risk. The fungus also clings to privacy curtains, bedrails, walls, and ceilings where it can live for weeks. Routine cleaning doesn’t get rid of it.

“You don’t want to be treated in a room where a previous patient had Candida auris,” McCaughey says.

Research shows that it is also spread through hospitals and nursing homes on blood pressure cuffs, vital signs trolleys, and other portable equipment.

A new study, announced at the Infectious Disease Society of America meeting in Washington DC recently showed that a single patient with Candida auris admitted to a healthcare facility in Orange County, California led to more than 180 patients picking up the germ on their skin, and introducing it to nine different nursing homes and hospitals there.

Secrecy has allowed that kind of rapid spread to happen in New York, where the fungus was confined to a few hospitals in New York City just three years ago, and is now in most hospitals in the city and also has spread far and wide outside the city.

About half the cases in the entire nation are in New York State. This killer superbug is also prevalent in New Jersey and Illinois.

For a list of affected hospitals, click here and see pages 106 and 107.

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