UAB violated state regulations with legionella outbreak

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s chief health officer now says UAB violated state regulations by waiting too long to report a legionella outbreak, but he’s also praising the hospital for taking immediate action to control it.

Healthcare providers are required to notify the Alabama Department of Public Health with 24 hours of diagnosing any sort of outbreak.

State health officers say the hospital waited 12 days to make that report, but the Department of Public Health also requires lab test results to be submitted for that type of infection.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Donald Williams says UAB did submit lab results in a timely manner. He says it’s tough to know if you have an outbreak based on lab results alone.

UAB surgeon Dr. Loring Rue says they realized there was a problem in early May and began trying to kill the bacteria in the plumbing system on May 7.

The state health department says they were not notified until May 19.

“I would have liked them to report, yes. The only thing it could have done that I can see at this point is gotten the CDC involved a littler earlier,” said Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Rue says UAB did its own investigation to find out who might have been exposed to the bacteria. They also contacted 29 patients to talk about symptoms and, in some cases, offer antibiotics.

Williamson says non-reporting carries a misdemeanor penalty, but it doesn’t sounds as if they plan on taking any action against UAB.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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