Hospitals are not immune to bedbug infestations, which have plagued hotels, apartments and movie theaters throughout the country. And a recent study from Canada has suggested that despite previous studies, bedbugs can carry the dangerous staph infection MRSA, which is methicillin-resistant.
Just 10 days ago, the District of Columbia Department of Health confirmed the second case of bedbug infestation at United Medical Center. As a precaution, officials moved patients out of that area and treated at least six rooms with chemicals. Just two months earlier at the same hospital, a patient was discovered with bedbugs in the psychiatric area.
And last fall bedbugs were found at Central Maine Medical Center in New England. According to the Sun Journal newspaper, infestations were also reported at least three other facilities, including a nursing home.
In March, at least five cases of bedbugs were reported at hospitals in Milwaukee, even in examining rooms. "We're seeing cases of bedbugs on a weekly basis. In reality, the bedbugs are coming in on patients," Aurora Health Systems spokesman Adam Beeson told ABC's affiliate WISN-12.
"We then quarantine the area where that individual has been -- clothing, the furniture, etc.," Beeson said. A bedbug sniffing dog is then brought in to isolate the problem, and the room is then treated to make sure the bugs haven't spread.
Colorado has similar protocols, but never turns patients away, according to a report by ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH.
Peggy SaBelle, regional infection prevention and control director for Kaiser Permanente Colorado, said their protocol starts with the first sign of a bedbug.
Infection control is notified, and staff searches for parasites and the patient who may be carrying them. Once the human carrier is found, they are isolated, counseled and treated.
The hospital then advises the patient to hire a licensed pest control company to inspect and treat their home. Patients are also encouraged to store a set of clothes for medical appointments in a sealed plastic bag, then wash and dry them at high heat.
If the patient refuses to comply, Kaiser Permanente staff is advised to discuss home care services with them. Hospital staff clean all surfaces where the patient had contact, then call in pest control for treatment.
"We have a very aggressive plan and it has been very effective," she told KMGH.
Lewis said she followed her end of that protocol, but had not received that advice from the doctor at Aurora Medical Center.