Lawmakers Propose Steps to Prevent “Superbug” Outbreaks

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March 31, 2015 — The White House has announced its first-ever action plan to fight the emerging threat of antibiotic-resistant “superbug” bacterial infections.

The 63-page document outlines five specific goals to help reduce the spread of “superbugs,” over the next five years, including “eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals,” strengthen surveillance efforts, and develop faster diagnostic tests.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths every year in the United States alone.

A growing number of antibiotic-resistant infections have been reported following procedures involving a duodenoscope, which is a specialized medical device used to treat diseases of the pancreas and bile ducts, such as gallstones and cancer.

Earlier this year, deadly infection outbreaks in Washington and California led the FDA to warn that certain scopes may be extremely difficult to sterilize effectively.

Much of the scrutiny has fallen on Olympus Corp., manufacturer of an unapproved scope. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that lawmakers are also seeking information from Pentax Medical, another manufacturer of duodenoscopes.

Pentax scopes were used at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital near Chicago, Illinois, where more than 40 people were infected with antibiotic-resistant “superbug” known as CRE in 2013.

U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) asked the company to address the situation by issuing new cleaning instructions:

“I would like to know Pentax’s reaction to Olympus’ new cleaning procedures and whether Pentax is following a similar approach. Multiple patients nationwide have been exposed to the deadly CRE infections as a result of Pentax duodenoscopes.”

 

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