Share This Page

Legionella at Presby: Something's missing

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

UPMC disclosed last week that it discovered the pesky Legionella bacteria in ice machines at Pittsburgh's Presbyterian Hospital late last year and that it contributed to the death of one patient and sickened two others.

In response, UPMC says it overhauled and sterilized about 500 ice machines at its Presby flagship in Oakland and 19 other hospitals. The hospital giant says the Legionella was discovered in October and December. And it says it notified the Allegheny County and Pennsylvania health departments, in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Karen Hacker, who heads the county health department, praised UPMC for disclosing the matter.

“Whenever you have an outbreak in an unusual scenario, you really want to get that information out so other institutions can learn from it,” she told the Trib. “(UPMC) went above and beyond to get at the source of the problem.”

That's all well, good and wonderful. But something's missing here and it's no small something:

Where was the public notification of this problem? Is it of no concern to hospital and local, state and federal health officials that the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were patients at or visited UPMC Presby late last year have been left to wonder if they, too, might have been exposed and/or infected?

Hospital and health officials likely will argue that the risk was low and isolated. Perhaps it was. But patients and visitors still have every right to know about that risk, that threat, in real time and to assess their options accordingly.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.