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Superbugs might be tied to the use of medical scopes

An investigation that has been taking place over the last year has shown some shocking results that connect some cases of hospital-acquired superbugs with medical scopes. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has received figures from the Food and Drug Administration that shows that there were more cases than the previously-reported 250 cases from 2010 through 2015. In fact, the number is likely in the 300 to 350 cases range. Even that estimate is likely too low since testing for these types of antibiotic-resistant infections isn't standard in all hospitals.

Last year alone, the FDA reported that medical scopes from Olympus Corp. and other companies were linked to superbugs were responsible for 142 cases of superbug infections. One of the types of scopes noted was the duodenoscope. These scopes are fiber-optic scopes that are used to treat and diagnose tumors and other issues in the bile ducts and pancreas.

Even with the prevalence of superbug infections linked to procedures performed with these devices and medical professionals stating they cleaned the devices in the manner that the Japanese manufacturer instructed, the FDA has opted to leave these duodenoscopes on the market. The reason is that the FDA says they fill an important medical need in routing procedures. It should be noted that the design of these scopes, which includes moveable components, make these scopes hard to clean.

Patients who suffer from superbug infections that are caused by bodily fluids and tissues from other patients that remain in the scopes despite cleaning procedures have an uphill battle to get better. These patients might choose to seek compensation to help them minimize the financial damage they suffer because of the issue.

Source: Fox 5, "Hundreds of infections from dirty scopes," Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, April 15, 2016

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