Legionnaire infection turned fatal

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A cancer patient at Norway’s leading cancer hospital, Radiumhospitalet in Oslo, has died after being infected with Legionnaire’s bacteria while undergoing cancer treatment in April. The hospital has now revealed three more cases of infection since last year.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that a total of four patients at Radiumhospitalet have been infected with Legionnaire’s bacteria through the hospital’s water system. The first two cases cropped up last year, but hospital staff didn’t think the infection had a local source.

“At that time, we didn’t suspect the infection could have occurred at our hospital,” Cathrine Lofthus, deputy managing director of the Oslo University Hospital of which Radiumhospitalet is a part, told Aftenposten. “The two patients had been admitted and discharged from several hospitals. That’s probably why the illness wasn’t seen in connection with stays at Radiumhospitalet.”

Both patients had mild symptoms of pneumonia. In April another patient was infected and a fourth in mid-May. The hospital confirmed that the patient infected in April died last week.

Now the hospital has replaced shower heads and filters in the hospital and ordered both patients and staff to refrain from drinking tap water while the water system continues to undergo inspection.

Nursing officials have criticized the hospital for putting off needed maintenance and failing to undertake regular inspections of the water supply and conduct testing.

Lofthus said the hospital also has “sharpened routines” and “can only apologize” that the earlier cases weren’t followed up with inspections until this spring. She admitted that the hospital’s water system should have been inspected earlier than it was.

She claimed that patients at the hospital are safe, as are employees.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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