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ImportanceResistance of gram-negative bacilli to carbapenems is rapidly emerging worldwide. In 2016, the World Health Organization defined the hospital-built environment as a core component of infection prevention and control programs. The hospital-built environment has recently been reported as a source for outbreaks and sporadic transmission events of carbapenemase-producing gram-negative bacilli from the environment to patients.ObjectiveTo assess risk after the identification of an unexpected, severe, and lethal hospital-acquired infection caused by carbapenemase-producing Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a carbapenemase-low endemic setting.Design, settings, and participantsA case series study in which a risk assessment was performed on all 11 patients admitted to the combined cardiothoracic surgery and pulmonary diseases ward and the hospital-built environment in the Radboud University Medical Center, the Netherlands, in February 2018.ExposuresWater and aerosols containing carbapenemase-producing (Verona integron-mediated metallo-β-lactamase [VIM]) P aeruginosa.Main outcomes and measuresColonization and/or infection of patients and/or contamination of the environment after the detection of 1 patient infected with carbapenemase-producing (VIM) P aeruginosa.ResultsA total of 5 men (age range, 60-84 years) and 6 women (age range, 55-74 years) were admitted to the combined cardiothoracic surgery and pulmonary diseases ward. The risk assessment was performed after carbapenemase-producing (VIM) P aeruginosa was unexpectedly detected in a man in his early 60s, who had undergone a left-sided pneumonectomy and adjuvant radiotherapy. No additional cases (colonization or infection) of carbapenemase-producing (VIM) P aeruginosa were detected. Plausible transmission of carbapenemase-producing P aeruginosa from the hospital environment to the patient via the air was confirmed by whole-genome sequencing, which proved the relation of Pseudomonas strains from the patient, the shower drains in 8 patient rooms, 1 sink, and an air sample.Conclusions and relevanceThis study suggests that rethinking the hospital-built environment, including shower drains and the sewage system, will be crucial for the prevention of severe and potential lethal hospital-acquired infections.

Original publication





JAMA network open

Publication Date





Radboudumc Center for Infectious Diseases, Department of Medical Microbiology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Humans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas Infections, Cross Infection, Carbapenems, beta-Lactamases, Bacterial Proteins, Risk Assessment, Retrospective Studies, Environmental Microbiology, Disease Outbreaks, beta-Lactam Resistance, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male