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Lawsuit says woman died a year after contracting 'superbug' CRE at Lutheran General

CRE bacteria. AP file photo

A lawsuit filed Friday blames Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and a medical device company for the “superbug” death of a woman who’d been treated there.

Ilene Weinberg became “extremely ill” and died July 6, 2014 — more than a year after contracting an infection from a contaminated instrument at Lutheran General, where she’d undergone a procedure involving a device called a duodenoscope, according to the wrongful-death suit filed in Cook County circuit court.

Federal authorities have linked the use of the scopes — which are inserted through the throat to diagnose problems in the pancreas or bile ducts — to infections at the Park Ridge hospital and elsewhere of the CRE, or carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, a potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacterium.

The suit claims the tube wasn’t properly sterilized and was contaminated by CRE.

It also blames Pentax Medical for designing the instrument in a way that made it difficult to sterilize.

The suit accuses the hospital and Pentax of being negligent and seeks unspecified damages.

A series of outbreaks of CRE at hospitals in several cities in 2013 and 2014 was linked to duodenoscopes by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that, because of the instrument’s design, it’s particularly difficult to sterilize.

Lutheran General was linked to the biggest outbreak of CRE. The CDC has said it found 44 cases in the Chciago area, with 38 of them at the Park Ridge hospital.

A spokeswoman said hospital officials had no comment on the suit.

In October 2013, Lutheran General began using a highly toxic gas, EtO, on hard-to-sterilize instruments and had seen no new cases of CRE since then, a hospital spokeswoman told the Chicago Sun-Times in March.