The number of deadly infections that came from contaminated medical scopes is much higher than what federal officials had originally projected. According to an LA Times article, the new investigation shows that as many as 350 patients at 41 medical facilities in the country were infected or exposed to a tainted gastrointestinal scope from January 1, 2010 to October 31, 2015. A separate investigation released in January had found that 250 infections at 25 hospitals and clinics in the country (as well as Europe) were expected. This probe, however, looked at a narrower period of 2012 to 2015.
There have been a number of cases where patients have died or suffered serious injury from a superbug that medical experts have linked to a specific endoscope. The device, which was designed by Olympus, was meant to make surgeries more efficient, but it wasn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Olympus has recalled their thousands of scopes since January 2016.
Olympus never gained clearance from the FDA before releasing their scope to the market in 2010. Now, their recent redesign has made it potentially difficult to properly disinfect the scope, which puts patients at risk for infection. Officials at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center (where an outbreak occurred) linked the infection to the endoscope.
The superbug that has been linked to these endoscopes is Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). This is a family of germs that is especially difficult to treat because they exhibit a high resistance to antibiotics. These germs are found in the normal intestines of a human, but these bacteria can quickly spread outside of the gut and lead to serious infection. CRE only spreads from direct exposure. While it is traditionally spread by person-to-person contact with infected individuals, the infection can be introduced into the body – such as through a contaminated endoscope. With a CRE infection, roughly 50 percent of those affected do not survive.
Olympus failed to prove that their scopes could be adequately cleaned – even when following their own sanitizing instructions. These devices were able to accumulate bacteria that is not removed by conventional cleaning – so the infection was then passed from patient-to-patient. While the reports have increased the number of infections and deaths associated with these contaminated endoscopes, it is likely that there are hundreds more that have not yet been reported. This is because when a CRE infection does occur, it is not automatically linked to past procedures the patient has had.
If you suffer from a deadly infection that is the result of a defect in the product or improper sanitization from the hospital, you could qualify for compensation under the law. Depending on the direct cause of the infection, you may have a malpractice or product liability claim. To explore your options, contact the Connecticut medical malpractice attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC.
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.