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Endoscope Infection: Patients File Olympus Medical Lawsuits After ‘Superbug’ Duodenoscope Exposure

Lawsuits are being filed across the country against Olympus America, Inc., the maker of the Q180V endoscope traced to the deadly “superbug” outbreak at the UCLA medical center. As many as 179 patients who underwent routine medical procedures were exposed to an antibiotic resistant bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). If CRE bacteria reaches a patient’s bloodstream, the mortality rate can be as high as 50%.

Two deaths are linked to the UCLA CRE superbug outbreak. At least one wrongful death claim has been filed against Olympus America, Inc. Plaintiffs allege Olympus marketed the newly designed Q180V endoscopes without updated sterilization protocols, putting patients at risk of contracting deadly bacterial infections.

What is an endoscope?

An endoscope is a flexible medical device used in minimally invasive procedures to treat conditions associated with the digestive tract and detecting certain types of cancer. They are commonly used in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure where an endoscope is inserted down a patient’s throat and used in conjunction with radial imaging to treat biliary and pancreatic disorders. An estimated 500,000 ERCPs are performed every year in the United States.

Patients undergoing an ERCP or other similar procedure can be exposed to drug resistant bacteria if the endoscope is not properly sterilized prior to the procedure. The moving parts and microscopic crevices of the endoscope are difficult to clean and can allow deadly bacteria from the residual bodily fluids of previous patients to propagate.

Olympus marketed endoscopes without updated sterilization protocols

Plaintiffs filing suit against Olympus allege the company knew or should have known exactly how difficult their Q180V endoscopes were to clean. Because of the difficulty in cleaning endoscopes, Olympus should have known the risk of microbial contamination from residual body fluids. In 2013, Olympus was informed of problems sterilizing its 160 and 180 series endoscopes after dozens of patients at Virginia Mason medical center in Seattle, WA were infected with a strain of drug-resistant bacteria similar to the CRE superbug.

In 2014, Olympus redesigned its 180 series endoscopes but failed to acquire an validated reprocessing protocol for the device. Plaintiffs allege Olympus provided users of the device with a sterilization protocol validated only for previous versions of the 180 series endoscope. Because healthcare professionals relied on sterilization protocols from Olympus they were unable to adequately clean the device between procedures and exposed patients to possibly deadly bacteria.

Olympus is accused of product liability by negligence for placing the device in the stream of commerce by not exercising proper care in the design of its 180V endoscope’s, manufacturing, testing, and marketing. Plaintiffs also allege fraud by intentional misrepresentation on the part of Olympus because the company allegedly falsely represented the cleaning protocols for the device and did not disclose there was no validated protocol for the newly designed endoscope.

Filing an endoscope infection lawsuit

If you contracted a severe bacterial infection or suffered another serious injury after undergoing an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or other type of endoscopy, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. The Cochran Firm, D.C. is actively investigating product liability claims made by individuals whose injuries may have been caused by an Olympus endoscope or other similar device.

The Cochran Firm, D.C. has a team of experienced and dedicated attorneys who can help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. For a free, prompt, and confidential case review please call us at 202-682-5800 during business hours, or 1-800-THE-FIRM (843-3476) 24 hours a day, or fill out a contact form here on our website. There are no legal fees unless we win your case. Because strict time deadlines apply when filing an endoscopic medical malpractice lawsuit, please contact us at your earliest convenience in order to preserve your rights.

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The Cochran Firm handles Medical Malpractice, Catastrophic Personal Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents & Wrongful Death Claims for clients throughout the United States of America. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship. Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
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