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April 9, 2015 — Hospitals around the nation have linked duodenoscopes to outbreaks of “superbugs,” and now some say even high-level disinfection leaves 3% of scopes contaminated.

Bloomberg reports that officials at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle heightened cleaning procedures after a “superbug” outbreak, but even after “meticulous manual cleaning,” 3% of the scopes tested positive for contamination and had to be re-cleaned.

According to Bloomberg:

“On average, about one scope a week is still contaminated after cleaning. If every U.S. hospital had a similar rate, that would mean 15,000 operations a year performed with dirty ERCP endoscopes.”

Outbreaks have been reported in California, Washington, Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and other states. Earlier this year, the FDA warned that the complex design of duodenoscopes makes them extremely difficult to sterilize.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Pennsylvania has confirmed that 8 patients tested positive for drug-resistant “superbug” bacteria after undergoing duodenoscope procedures from 2013-2014, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Health officials in Mississippi are also investigating outbreaks of CRE. The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) has seen about 40 cases in the last three to four years, and other hospitals across the state have had cases, according to MS News Now.

Virginia Mason reported that 32 patients were infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli between November 2012 and August 2013, including 11 who died. The hospital said it followed the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection.