Tuberculosis Testing on Exposed Infants Nearly Complete - 8 News NOW

Tuberculosis Testing on Exposed Infants Nearly Complete

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Ruben and Vanessa White. Ruben and Vanessa White.
Vanessa White visited her baby in the NICU. Vanessa White visited her baby in the NICU.

LAS VEGAS -- The tuberculosis testing of 140 babies and their families is 95 percent complete. The Southern Nevada Health District reports all the infants tested have came back negative for the disease, but health officials are still recommending the babies receive antibiotic treatment for as long as nine months.

Those babies will also need to be tested twice more over the next year because they are too young for the test results to be considered accurate. It's been a nightmare situation for hundreds of people in Las Vegas.

It began months ago in Summerlin Hospital's Level III Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. A baby in the unit had contracted the disease from her mother. The hospital did not know the mother was infected with TB.

The infected woman, Vanessa White, delivered twins at Summerlin Hospital in May 2013. One baby, Emma, died June 1 from respiratory failure. Vanessa White, 25, died July 1 from tuberculosis at a California hospital. The other baby, Abigail, died Aug. 1 of TB.

While Abigail was in the neo-natal unit, Vanessa, who had a fever, visited her. Ruben White, said his wife had been sick and despite seeing doctors no one diagnosed her illness.

"The only thing we know to do is to get medical help when we thought we needed it and unfortunately this is what happened," he said.

White is suing the hospital for failing to diagnose his wife's disease.

Numerous people were possibly exposed to the illness.

"He came in to see my son in the NICU and now he has TB," said Jenifer Davis.

Her father contracted TB after visiting his grandson in the NICU.

The Valley Health System sent out the following statement Thursday:

"Summerlin Hospital is committed to providing the highest level of care, and to provide a safe environment for its patients and visitors. We use nationally recognized protocols to prevent the spread of infection and we are confident we did so in this case."

According to an investigating state agency, protocol was not followed.

"The hospital did not follow the standard precautions, which are universal precautions in place for tens of years in this country, in the world, everywhere," state epidemiologist Dr. Ihsan Azzam said.

Earlier this week, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health released a report:

  • Documenting evidence of a nurse forgetting to wear gloves
  • The sick mother being allowed in the NICU without a mask
  • A recommendation to isolate the sick woman not being followed

Currently, 36 people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Summer Hospital officials said in a statement that "Medical experts who have already reviewed this matter have confirmed there was no reason to suspect that the patient had TB and an appropriate screening was performed."

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