March 18, 2015 — Five lawsuits have been filed by victims of a deadly “superbug” infection outbreak linked to dirty medical scopes at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, according to Reuters.
The most recent lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by 76 year-old Domingo Gomez, who was infected with carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria, or CRE.
Gomez was one of seven people infected with the so-called “superbug,” after 179 people were exposed between October 3 and January 28. Officials at UCLA blamed the outbreak on a duodenoscope made by Olympus Medical Systems Corp.
Another lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of an 18 year-old student who was hospitalized. Olympus is accused of of changing the design of the scope in mid-2014 in a way that may have made it more difficult to clean, but failing to update the cleaning protocol.
The lawsuit claims the cleaning protocol was for an older duodenoscope with a “significantly different design. … As a result, end-users were not able to effectively sanitize and clean the new redesigned scope.”
Lawyers claim Olympus should have anticipated that design changes would make the scope harder to clean. UCLA is not being blamed for the infections.
Earlier this month, the FDA disclosed that the Olympus scope had never been cleared for market. The approval application is still pending. The FDA also warned that the complex design of duodenoscopes could make them extremely difficult to sterilize completely.