An E. coli outbreak has been linked to an Olympus duodenoscope used at University of Colorado Hospital.

According to the Denver Post, nine patients that had surgeries using an Olympus Medical System Corporation duodenoscope contracted E. coli infections. Three of the 9 died.

Because these patients were very sick prior to the surgery, UC Hospital has taken the position that it is unclear if the E. coli infection was the cause of the deaths.

Bacteria Testing

Tireless advocate for endoscope safety, Lawrence Muscarella, PhD, was the first to break this story. You can read his article here. According to Muscarella:

“These patients were infected following ERCP, which the hospital performed using an Olympus TJF-Q180V duodenoscope.”

ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedure, in which a duodenoscope is inserted through the mouth and travels to the pancreas or bile ducts. If contaminated with E. coli, cells of this dangerous pathogen can travel to the intestines, where they can colonize and produce Shiga toxins, poison that causes hemorrhagic colitis (evidenced by bloody diarrhea). Patients can also develop kidney failure, brain damage, heart disease, pancreatitis and other potentially fatal health problems.

We want to recognize the efforts of Lawrence Muscarella. According to the Denver Post:

“Muscarella provided a copy of an Olympus report to the FDA that Weaver acknowledged refers to University of Colorado Hospital, although it did not match some details of the hospital’s own findings, including the numbers of infections and deaths. According to that report, Olympus was informed Jan. 22 that six patients had been infected with E. coli and two of them had died. The hospital took the device out of service.”

We need more safety advocates like Mr. Muscarella.