It sounds like something out of a horror film: Beginning in the year 2012, a deadly superbug outbreak infects and, in some cases, kills numerous patients in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. What do all of these cases have in common? Each person underwent a procedure involving the use of a state-of-the art medical scope known as the Olympus "TJF-Q180V duodenoscope," and each patient tested positive for a "superbug" that is so resistant to antibiotics that health officials call it the "nightmare bacteria."
Below, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Olympus scope infections, pending lawsuits regarding the allegedly defective medical device, and where to go for more information if you are experiencing any adverse side effects after undergoing a procedure with this device.
Q: What is the Olympus Scope exactly?
The duodenoscope is a medical device used in a procedure known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Doctors insert the flexible, snake-like scope down a patient's throat and into the digestive tract, where doctors can treat conditions, such as a liver disease, pancreatic and bile ducts issues, and certain forms of cancer, without the complications of more invasive surgery.
Q: How many medical procedures annually involve duodenoscopes?
In the United States, duodenoscopes are used in more than 500,000 ERCP procedures each year. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating Pentax, Fujifilm, and Olympus Corp., which manufacturers roughly 85 percent of the scopes in question.
Q: How are patients getting sick from the Olympus Scope?
The device's design includes microscopic crevices nearly impossible to reach with a cleaning brush. This makes them extremely difficult to properly disinfect. Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria can become trapped in the tiny crevices near the tip of the devices, accumulate there, and go on to infect patients. Lawsuits allege that Olympus failed to instruct hospital personnel on how to properly clean the scopes after making a design change, leaving it more vulnerable to trapped bacteria.
Q: Did the FDA approve the use of duodenoscopes?
The FDA has not approved use of this device. However, the administration has not recalled the device from the market either, citing widespread use of the duodenoscope and good faith effort on behalf of Olympus. However, the FDA has since issued a warning that the design of the Olympus scopes made them difficult to thoroughly clean, resulting in numerous infections.
Q: Are there currently any lawsuits against Olympus?
Yes, injured persons began filing lawsuits across the country claiming the Olympus scope caused them harm and even death in some cases. Specifically, injured parties have filed lawsuits for:
The plaintiffs claim that Olympus knew or should have known that the device could result in contaminated fluids being transferred from patient to patient. Furthermore, the company failed to obtain FDA certification and made an update to the device without considering the cleaning methods necessary to disinfect the device after use in a medical procedure, thereby putting the patients at serious risk.
Suffer an Olympus Scope Infection? Get Legal Help
If you or a loved one has been harmed after undergoing a medical procedure involving the Olympus Scope, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and more. An experienced personal injury attorney with knowledge of these types of cases can assist victims and their families. If you're interested in learning more about your legal options, a good first step is to talk with a local attorney.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.