Nationwide Endoscope Infection Lawsuits
10,000+ Injury Cases Resolved by Our Chicago Medical Device Lawyers
Doctors use endoscopes – long tubes with a tiny video camera and light on its tip – to look inside patients’ digestive systems. They’re a good alternative to surgery, but a certain type of endoscope has recently been found to spread a deadly, antibiotic-resistant infection.
The particular endoscope spreading infections is called a duodenscope, which is used during pancreas and bile duct examinations. These are also called ERCP endoscopes (ERCP is the medical abbreviation for the pancreas and bile duct examination). They’re used in more than 600,000 examinations every year.
In 2015, the FDA announced that ERCP endoscopes aren’t always properly sterilized because of their complex design. Reusable medical devices are typically cleaned in a multi-step process to ensure they’re absolutely sterilized before use on the next patient. Unfortunately, patients undergoing procedures using ERCP endoscopes are suffering deadly infections, even when they’re sterilized properly.
We are here to help patients suffering serious infections from these devices. We’ve been fighting on behalf of injured patients and their families for 30 years, winning millions for our clients.
Call (888) 444-9136 for a free case consultation—we can determine your legal options and help you recover from your infection.
ERCP endoscopes can transmit a type of infection that’s resistant to antibiotic treatment, called CRE. Drug-resistant infections like MRSA and CRE are often called “superbugs” because of their mutating and life-threatening nature.
Superbugs can cause infections like pneumonia, UTIs, and skin infections. They can also spread to healthy bacteria in the blood, bladder, or other organs. Infections that are difficult or impossible to treat can lead to death, particularly in elderly, ill, or very young patients. Patients who require breathing machines or catheters are also more vulnerable to superbug infections.
ERCP endoscopes were first linked to superbug infections in 2010, when several studies revealed blood and tissue could be trapped in the difficult-to-clean ERCP endoscopes.
A recent Senate investigation revealed that, between 2012 and 2015, at least 250 superbug infections were linked to ERCP endoscopes. Superbug infections result in patients being forced to stay in hospitals for weeks or months, costing patients and hospitals millions of dollars.
Endoscope Manufacturers & Lawsuits
Three companies are now facing endoscope infection lawsuits:
- Olympus America
- Fujifilm Medical Systems
- Hoya Corp. unit Pentax Life Care Division
Olympus is the leading ERCP endoscope supplier in the U.S. After UCLA Medical Center traced its endoscopes to a deadly infection outbreak, the hospital asked Olympus to replace the contaminated devices. Olympus refused to replace the contaminated devices, only offering to sell UCLA new endoscopes for significantly more money than they paid months earlier.
Three UCLA patients died and five more were infected from the contaminated Olympus devices. Not only did Olympus fail to recognize and correct its mistake, but it continued to push overpriced, defective endoscopes on UCLA and other hospitals around the country.
In 2016, Olympus agreed to recall and redesign the machine used to disinfect its ERCP endoscopes. The FDA had to force this recall – Olympus wanted only to fix the machines rather than recall them.
The FDA issued warnings to all three endoscope manufacturers for not enforcing sterilization processes and failing to report patient injuries and deaths related to contaminated endoscopes. Olympus submitted incomplete and misleading reports, some of which undercounting how many patients were infected from the devices, or blaming hospitals for not washing the devices properly.
By the time the devices were finally recalled, more than 200 patients in at least 16 U.S. hospitals had been infected. Federal prosecutors are investigating all three companies for the role they played in the outbreak.
Patients infected by ERCP endoscopes started filing lawsuits against Olympus in 2015. Hundreds of injured patients are expected to file cases as well.
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