Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers Report on Deadly Superbug Infection in Pennsylvania Hospitals
March 23, 2015
Hospitals in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are among others in Illinois, Seattle, and Los Angeles that have recently been hit by a superbug that has claimed the lives of two patients and left hundreds of others exposed to an antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles reported that seven of their patients came down with a superbug infection following an endoscopic procedure at the hospital. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia reported eight infections and two deaths among patients undergoing a similar procedure. The UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh had eight patients come down with a similar infection in 2012.
In endoscopic procedures at all of the affected hospitals, a medical device called a duodenoscope is used to perform vital tasks such as draining clogged bile and gall bladder ducts. Patients undergoing these types of procedures are typically very sick, with weakened immune systems that are unable to fight off the powerful bacteria. Over half a million procedures of this kind are performed across the country each year.
Cleaning Duodenoscopes to Prevent Infection
Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety message to users of the Olympus 180V duodenoscope because patient infections have been linked to bacteria found on the internal parts of the device. The internal mechanisms of the scope are not easily accessible; therefore, they are difficult to clean and sterilize. The FDA is urging all hospitals to take extra precautions to thoroughly clean these internal areas. The UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh has employed an innovative cleaning system to combat the problem that uses ethylene oxide gas. Since implementing this new sterilization procedure, the hospital has not reported any new cases of infected patients.
The problem with the ethylene oxide method of cleaning is that it takes 18 hours to complete the process. The standard cleaning process takes only about two hours. To address this problem, UPMC has purchased 12 more duodenoscopes at a cost of $40,000 each. Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia says it will not use the ethylene oxide cleaning method since it has not had any new reported cases of the superbug since it enhanced its own sterilization and cleaning procedures. Jefferson officials also claim that after a thorough investigation, they could find no proof that Olympus 180V duodenoscopes were the cause of superbug infections at their hospital, claiming that patients must have entered the hospital already infected. An infection control consultant who has been studying the duodenoscopes says that more tests should be done before Jefferson rules out the possibility that bacteria in the medical devices caused patient infections.
Some infection control officials believe that the internal mechanisms of the duodenoscope need to be redesigned so that all parts of the scope can be easily cleaned and sterilized. In response to concerns that the FDA initiative is not enough to protect patients from becoming infected with a superbug bacteria, the FDA recently issued more stringent guidelines for manufacturers to ensure that all devices can easily be properly cleaned and sterilized. Three companies, Fujifilm, Pentax Medical, and Olympus manufacture duodenoscopes which are used in roughly 500,000 medical procedures each year. The device used at Jefferson was an Olympus model that did not yet have FDA approval. Pending official approval, the FDA says they had allowed continued use of the product because it was very similar to other models which had already been approved.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Patients Harmed by Dangerous and Defective Medical Devices
Individuals harmed by dangerous or defective medical devices run the risk of enduring lifelong injuries that often change their future forever. Companies that manufacture medical devices that cause serious injuries to the public can be held accountable through the pursuit of a products liability lawsuit. The experienced and highly skilled team at Galfand Berger LLP have a proven track record of successful products liability verdicts and settlements for their clients.
Call Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP at 1-800-222-USWA or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, PA serving clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania including those in Harrisburg and Allentown.