CRE Super Bug Infections at Virginia Mason Medical Center

UPDATE: Automated Endoscope Reprocessors (AERs) May Have Contributed to Recent CRE Outbreaks.

Duodenoscopes, a specific type of GI-endoscope, have been linked to recent super bug CRE outbreaks across the US, one of the most severe of which occurred at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center. Between 2012 and 2014 at least 32 patients were sickened with the super bug and 11 died, although Virginia Mason officials have not confirmed deaths were a result of CRE infection.

These CRE super bugs (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) are often fatal, with outbreaks having a mortality rate of about 40%, and include New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase (NDM) Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae


Earlier this month the CDC released information regarding the potential risk of infection associated with the duodenoscopes used for ERCP, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography, concluding “The design of the ERCP endoscope might pose a particular challenge for cleaning and disinfection”. On March 18 2015, USA TODAY published “Deadly bacteria outbreak inflames disinfection concerns,” which discussed a link from AERs to the CRE outbreaks. All hospitals reported using the same AERs, Automated Endoscope Reprocessors, to disinfect the ERCP endoscopes between uses. AERs are used to clean a variety of scopes using pressure washing to pump disinfectant through and around the scopes. Many of the AERs were cleared for use over a decade ago, and since have not been retested to make sure they are able to disinfect the new more complicated scopes, like duodenoscopes, to the same standard.


The CDC, FDA and hospitals have determined not to tell patients infected by an endoscope how they were infected. This means an untold number of patients may have been sickened by contaminated endoscopes and may be in the dark about how they got sick.


Attorney Fred Pritzker is leading lawyers preparing to file a lawsuit for infection from an ERCP endoscope, you can click here to request a free consultation regarding E. coli infections that may have been caused by a contaminated endoscope. Because hospitals are probably not testing suspected endoscopes for bacterial contamination, these cases may be extremely difficult to prove. We are a national law firm and have won millions for our clients, including $45 million for clients injured by another medical product.

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