updated 1/24/2007 12:29:00 PM ET 2007-01-24T17:29:00

Hospital staff did not properly clean medical instruments linked to a deadly bacterial outbreak at a neonatal intensive care unit in Los Angeles, regulators have concluded.

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White Memorial Medical Center closed the unit Dec. 4 after an outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa sickened five infants. Two of the babies died, and their deaths were believed to have been caused by the pathogen.

In a report issued Tuesday, inspectors from the California Department of Health Services faulted hospital staff for not following manufacturer’s recommendations for sterilizing laryngoscope blades, which are used to insert breathing tubes. The report said the respiratory therapy staff simply wiped the blades with soap, tap water and alcohol wipes.

A White Memorial statement said the report “confirms the hospital’s preliminary findings.”
The neonatal unit has been reopened and officials said there have been no new infections.

Of the roughly 2 million hospital-acquired infections each year, about 10 percent are caused by P. aeruginosa, a common bacterium that can be spread by health care workers, medical instruments, disinfectant solutions and food.

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