Med Scope Manufacturer Failed to Warn Hospitals of Risk of Potentially Deadly Infections

A patient lawsuit against duodenoscope manufacturer Olympus contends that outbreaks and death could have been prevented if they had been more forthcoming about their tainted scopes. Internal Olympus emails from 2013 were filed as part of the lawsuit and, according to the LA Times, show a company official told American executives not to issue widespread warnings to US hospitals “about potentially deadly infections from tainted medical scopes.”

In the years following the emails, there were outbreaks of infection at hospitals in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Denver and other cities caused by contaminated gastrointestinal scopes manufactured by Olympus, according to hospitals and public health officials. Users of Contaminated Olympus duodenoscopes have reportedly developed mostly infections of the deadly carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae linked to the deaths of 35 people in the US. Overall, as many as 350 patients at 41 different medical facilities worldwide were infected or exposed to contaminated scopes made by Olympus between January 2010 and October 2015, according to the FDA.

Olympus had hired an investigator who concluded in a 2012 report that the duodenoscope’s design could allow blood and tissue to become trapped, spreading bacteria from one patient to another.

Olympus put out warnings to its European customers in January of 2013 that its scopes could become contaminated. When pressed to issue broad warnings by its U.S. executives, Olympus’s Susumu Nishina, the chief manager for market quality administration in Tokyo, said it was not necessary in a Feb. 6, 2013 email.

The defective Olympus duodenoscopes were finally recalled by Olympus in January 2016. Prior to announcing the recall, Olympus had blamed improper hospital cleaning procedures for the outbreaks.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you feel you have been injured by a defective medical product.

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