Olympus Corp. recently announced that it would recall and redesign a medical scope that has been linked to deadly patient infections across the globe. Olympus is responsible for selling about 85 percent of the duodenoscopes used in the U.S. Those reusable scopes were found to have an internal mechanism that had been almost impossible to disinfect before being used on another patient.
Olympus allegedly knew of the problems with the scope as early as 2012, but failed to take any action. Since then, at least 141 patients in nine U.S. cities have been infected with a superbug known as CRE, which is deadly to about half the people who contract it.
The duodenoscope is used in almost 700,000 procedures a year known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The scope is threaded down a patient’s throat to reach the digestive tract in order to diagnose and treat cancer, gallstones, and other medical conditions. Olympus has for years been blaming the increase in the number of infections after ERCPs on hospitals’ failing to properly clean the scopes.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the company’s role in the outbreak of CRE. According to the company, it has modified the design to create a tighter seal, which will reduce the risk that patient fluids could leak into the closed channel. The company says it will repair all 4,400 scopes in the U.S. by August. Until then, hospitals can continue to use the scope but must be very meticulous in following cleaning instructions. It’s unclear how many people have died because of infections contracted from the scope, but at least 18 died at one hospital in Seattle.
It’s very unfortunate that some companies choose to put profits ahead of patient safety. Those companies that choose to ignore the dangers their products pose to the public can be held legally liable for damages when consumers are sickened or even killed by their products. If you have been infected after a procedure using a duodenoscope, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Kennedy Hodges at 855-947-0707. Our attorneys will fight hard for your legal rights. You can also visit our YouTube channel to learn more.