Two die at Shelby Baptist after receiving nutritional IV

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Two patients died at Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster after they received an intravenous total parenteral nutrition supplement.

The patients were among five people at the hospital who developed a rare blood-borne bacterial infection after receiving the TPN supplements, said Baptist Health System’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Ennis.

As of March 29, the hospital had not released the victims’ names.

The two deaths at Shelby Baptist were among nine who died in Central Alabama hospitals after receiving TPN distributed by the Birmingham-based Meds IV pharmaceutical company, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Other hospitals affected were Baptist Princeton, Baptist Prattville, Cooper Green Mercy and Select Specialty Hospital. ADPH confirmed 19 cases of the bacterial infections among the six hospitals.

TPN is an intravenous substance given to patients who otherwise would not be able to receive nutrition.

“It is not common. There will be a number of patients that require TPN because of a severe medical or surgical condition that prohibits them from receiving nutrition naturally,” Ennis said. “You will see it in intensive care units and burn units, and you may also see it used for patients who have long-term GI tract illnesses.”

All five patients who were infected had received TPN from the Meds IV company, which is on Oxmoor Road. Baptist Health Systems stopped use of all pharmaceuticals distributed by Meds IV after discovering the bacterial infections, Ennis said.

TPN is delivered to the hospital each day, and has a shelf life of 24 hours. It is custom-formulated to meet each patient’s nutritional needs, Ennis said.

Ennis said most patients who receive TPN are already facing severe medical issues.

“After our infection control practitioners discovered the bacterial infection, they were able to make the correlation that other patients in which the contamination was being seen were also receiving TPN,” Ennis said. “We promptly contacted the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control to make sure it was contained and resolved.”

“We don’t know, and may never know, if the Serratia marcescens bloodstream infection played a role in the deaths of these patients,” Ennis wrote in a press release. “Because quality patient care is our top priority, this event is deeply disturbing to all of us at Baptist Health System.”