LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The maker of medical scopes linked to a potentially deadly “superbug” outbreak at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has issued an “urgent safety notification” to health providers detailing new procedures on how to disinfect the equipment.
In a 13-page letter, Olympus America Inc. gave instructions for cleaning the devices, called duodenoscopes, and said that a small-bristle brush required for the new sterilization procedures would be shipped “no later than May 8.”
The company recommended cleaning the scopes in accordance with the old instructions until the new brushes arrive.
Duodenoscopes are flexible, lighted tubes inserted down the throat for visual examination of the duodenum or portion of the small intestine closest to the stomach. The devices are used to drain fluids from pancreatic and biliary ducts blocked by cancerous tumors, gallstones, or other conditions.
Because the devices are reusable, they are supposed to be thoroughly cleaned after each use so pathogens are not transferred from one patient to the next.
Congressman Ted W. Lieu, D-Los Angeles, applauded the company’s release of new cleaning protocols for its scopes.
Seven patients at UCLA Medical Center, including two who died, were exposed to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, called CRE, apparently spread by improperly disinfected Olympus duodenoscopes and four Cedars-Sinai patients were similarly infected, officials said.
UCLA officials have notified 179 patients who underwent endoscopic procedures between October and January that they may have been exposed to the superbug, which was traced to a pair of Olympus scopes, the hospital said.
Several patients have sued Olympus in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging products liability, negligence and fraud.
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