Infection from Endoscope at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle

An outbreak of severe infections in Seattle, Washington, has been associated with use of specialized flexible endoscopes used for medical procedures, called duodenoscopes (refrerred to as endoscopes hereafter). At least 32 patients at Virginia Mason Medical Center were sickened between 2012 and 2014, and 11 of them died, although hospital officials are saying the deaths may not be connected to the infections.

These infections and the deaths need to be investigated. Our lawyers have won millions for patients injured by hospital infections. They are providing FREE consultations to patients and families regarding personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against manufacturers.

The ERCP endoscopes have been associated with infections from Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Hyper-AmpC producing E. coli. Both are extremely resistant to antibiotics, resulting in a high mortality rate.

CRE Bacteria

How are the Endoscopes Transmitting Illness?

The CDC has released information regarding the potential risk of infection associated with these flexible endoscopes (duodenoscopes) used for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

An investigation into an outbreak of New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase (NDM)–producing CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) in the Chicago area included testing of an endoscope used for ERCP on 5 of the outbreak patients at the associated hospital. The endoscope tested had been cleaned according to manufacturer’s instructions and hospital protocol in an automated endoscope reprocessor. After manual cleaning and high-level disinfection in the reprocessor, health investigators found NDM-producing E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae that produced Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC). These deadly pathogens were recovered from the terminal section (the elevator channel) of the device.

The DNA “fingerprint” of the E. coli isolate found in the “cleaned” endoscope was nearly identical to outbreak strain of E. coli. This is “smoking gun” evidence that the instrument transmitted the bacteria to patients.

The CDC concluded: “The design of the ERCP endoscopes might pose a particular challenge for cleaning and disinfection.”

Was the Endoscope Used in Your Medical Procedure Clean?

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.

Our lawyers are available for FREE consultations 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.

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