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California Hospital Failed to Report Deadly Infection Outbreak

A Pasadena hospital is under scrutiny for failing to report a deadly outbreak tied to tainted scopes. According to health officials, the infections at Huntington Hospital claimed the lives of 11 patients and sickened 16 others.

The latest report is alarming because it not only confirms that tainted duodenoscopes infected many more patients than initially reported, but also suggests that hospitals are keeping patients in the dark about the risk of infection.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, doctors at Huntington Hospital were tracking suspected drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in at least 35 patients before Pasadena health officials were notified about the potential outbreak. Under California law, hospitals are required to report an “occurrence of any unusual disease” or “any outbreaks of disease” to local health officials within 24 hours.

The subsequent investigation by Pasadena health officials concluded that the deadly infection outbreak was caused by dirty scopes. The city’s report specifically concluded that the “hard to clean” design of the scopes, as well as failures by the hospital, played a role.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, contaminated duodenoscopes have been linked to at least 25 different outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections and sickened at least 250 patients worldwide. Subsequent investigations later revealed that Olympus, the device maker of 85 percent of the duodenoscopes used in the United States, knew that cleaning its closed channel duodenoscopes according to the manufacturer’s instructions failed to remove potentially dangerous bacteria. While Olympus was aware of the risk of infection in 2013, it did not alert hospitals and patients until February 2015.

When officials arrived to inspect the Pasadena hospital, they found visible residue in the machines used to disinfect the scopes. According to the report, the hospitals also used compressed air purchased at Office Depot to dry the scopes. Pasadena officials also had to ask the hospital twice to notify patients who underwent procedures using the three duodenoscopes that tested positive for the dangerous bacteria.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a dangerous or defective drug or medical device, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Our legal team has successfully represented clients against manufacturers and distributors of medical devices for more than 30 years.