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Bacteria Detection in Maryland NICU Points to Larger Problem, Expert Says

As local and federal officials work to determine the source of a dangerous bacteria in a neonatal intensive care unit in Maryland, one expert says he sees a larger problem.

"The first time was an accident. The second time was possibly gross incompetence," Lawrence F. Muscarella, the president of LFM Healthcare Solutions said. For decades, he has studied and written about infection control in hospitals.

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Prince George's Hospital Center closed Wednesday after infants tested positive for the bacterium pseudomonas for the second time in three months. One of two infants who tested positive for the bacterium last week is struggling with symptoms, officials said in an update Friday.

Muscarella said he was concerned that the public is not being told the whole truth. A hospital spokesman said the water in the NICU was the source of the first contamination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to pinpoint the cause of this second discovery.

Muscarella said he wonders if the first investigation was mishandled.

"When I heard the outbreak occurred again, I thought this may be a classic example of a flawed root cause analysis, where only one of several contributing factors were addressed and as a result of addressing that one, we've overlooked some other things," he said.

News4's Tracee Wilkins asked Muscarella if he believes other patients at the hospital should be concerned for their health.

"I think they should. I think that now that we've learned that the hospital said they fixed the problem, quote unquote, when it wasn't really fixed, I think that they should be concerned," he said.

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