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Infected medical devices at Cedars-Sinai linked to fresh superbug outbreak

Officials at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center confirmed on Wednesday that the superbug bacteria which caused a deadly outbreak at UCLA Medical Center in February has been linked to four patients infected at the hospital.

The hospital officials have got in touch with the infected patients and 67 others who underwent endoscopic procedures any time between August of last year through this February. The hospital has decided to offer free home-testing kits to determine whether they may have been infected with CRE, a bacteria resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem.

It is learned that one of the infected patients has died but Cedars-Sinai says that person died from an "underlying disease and not from CRE, as their CRE infection had cleared."

The officials have located the duodenoscope that was used on the patients and it is no longer in use. Enhanced sterilization techniques would now be used on the scopes which will be used in their endoscopic procedures.

The FDA has acknowledged that the devices can be hard to clean, but says pulling the devices off the market would prevent people from getting life-saving procedures.

Dr. Diana Zuckerman, of the National Center for Health Research, said the cases point to underlying issues with the medical devices, which are commonly used in hospitals.

"Number one is, the process is much too easy and devices are allowed to be sold that haven't been really proven to be safe or effective," Zuckerman said. "The second problem is that even when a company gets caught not properly testing its products - the company just gets away with it."

In February, UCLA officials had announced that seven of its patients had been infected with the superbug from a similar medical device, and two had died.