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Spread of bacteria linked to alleged defective medical device

Doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals in California may only be as effective and safe as the equipment or tools that they use. When a defective medical device makes it into the hands of health care providers, patients may be at risk for substantial injury or illness. One such allegedly defective product apparently works well enough but is exceptionally difficult to clean.

Anyone who has watched a medical drama may be familiar with the concept of surgeons and nurses scrubbing themselves with soap before surgery. This need for sanitary conditions during a surgery is no over exaggeration, as this type of behavior helps prevent the spread of diseases and superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, like the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae that has been spreading in an out-of-state hospital. Officials now believe that the superbug CRE hitched a ride on an endoscopic tool that wasn't properly sanitized. 

However, the non-sterile tool may not necessarily be the hospital's fault. From Jan. 2013 to Dec. 2014, reports of 135 patients infected by the endoscopic tool flooded the FDA. Some patients even had to undergo months of rigorous testing after possibly being exposed to deadly viruses, such as HIV. The FDA issued a warning to hospitals and doctors using the device, cautioning that cleaning it was exceptionally difficult and that the manufacturer's instructions for sanitizing it were insufficient.

Although many patients in California may think of a defective medical device as something that causes immediate physical harm or fails to do its job properly, this is not always the case. In instances when cleanliness is paramount, an item that cannot be adequately sanitized by the method outlined in provided instructions can become just as dangerous as one that was designed or manufactured improperly. As such, it is possible for victims who were exposed to disease through the endoscopic tool to seek compensation through a successfully navigated product liability claim against Olympus Corporation of the Americas, the manufacturer of the tool.

Source:, "Finger-pointing, lawsuits likely to follow 'superbug' scare", Brian Melley, Feb. 20, 2015

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