Pasadena Hospital Delayed Report of Fatal Scope Infection Outbreak


Pasadena Hospital Delayed Report of Fatal Scope Infection Outbreak

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. Last year, 11 of 16 people were reported dead after being infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria after a scope procedure at Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital. The hospital delayed reporting this bacteria outbreak, which resulted in death. These deadly infections from carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) were preventable with proper design and reprocessing of the duodenoscopes used for these procedures. Duodenoscopes are used for a specific procedure called an ERCP, short for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, usually performed to remove gallstones or fluid causing pain and jaundice out of the bile or pancreatic ducts of the small intestines. The duodenoscope is a flexible black tube that is inserted through the mouth down the esophagus and the small intestines with a camera and an open space for water, air, or forceps to pass through to collect biopsies, inject die or place stents. The duodenoscope is more complicated and intricate in design than the more common endoscopic scopes used for endoscopes and routine colonoscopy screenings.

What Went Wrong?

Many may ask what was the process that broke down for such an outbreak and why was it not confirmed and reported within the state law regulations of 24 hours? Some contributing factors in the ongoing investigation include the complicated design of these duodenoscopes. This particular scope and a majority of these scopes are designed and manufactured by Olympus. These scopes have small pieces, buttons, and tips, which make it easy for tissues and debris to remain lodged in the scope unless properly cleaned and disinfected. There have been flaws in the design of the scope that caused Olympus to recall some of these scopes in the past when parts were not easily cleanable. This has led to ongoing investigation and lawsuits of these scopes as defective medical devices. Cleaning or reprocessing of each scope is a very vital part of preventing the spread of any infections. Each scope in a hospital is cleaned in a special reprocessing room where they are hand washed and disinfected in a sanitizing washing machine by the endoscopy technicians. With this detailed of a process, if correctly followed, there would not be any possible way an infection could survive in the scope from patient to patient. But 16 patients in this hospital were infected and 11 had fatal and catastrophic results.

Right the Wrong

Unfortunately, another breakdown in the system happened when the hospital failed to acknowledge and report the link of deaths and infections to the procedure and the infected scopes. In doing so the hospital actually broke California state law since city health officials have investigated according to a letter they released soon after. In the report, the death certificates had only listed the infection as the cause of death on 1 of the 11 deceased individuals. It was not until some of the infected families hired products liability lawyers did they realize the connection of the post-procedure infection from the duodenoscopes. The hospital did take responsibility for these deficiencies. The city health officials reporting the investigation led them to believe in a dual blame on both the hard to clean design and the lapse in infection control by the hospital and their staff. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has actively been working along in investigating that all necessary compliances are being met. The hospital has also taken it upon themselves to inform all patients that have had this specific scope used on them for their procedures of the infectious outbreak. Infection control is hopefully this hospital’s and every hospital’s most important priority and a priority for their staff to avoid such injuries to their patients in the future.

Related Articles by Sacramento Defective Medical Device Lawyer, Ed Smith:


Sacramento Defective Medical Device Lawyer & Wrongful Death Attorney 

I’m Ed Smith. I am a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. If you or someone you love has suffered from health care injuries or wrongful death, do not hesitate to reach me from the Sacramento area at (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach me toll-free at (800)-404-5400.

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