Silence on Endoscope-Related Outbreaks Continues

Senior executives at Olympus have recently declined to make any comment regarding emails that have surfaced in an investigation by Kaiser Health News and the Los Angeles Times. The emails seem to point to Olympus managers treating the infection risk to patients due to improper cleaning of duodenoscopes as “acceptable.”

This article found at Kaiser Health News by Chad Terhune discusses the recent decision by Olympus to invoke their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“Olympus said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Previously, the company has said that patient safety is a top priority and it’s working with the proper authorities to address any scope-related issues. The company recalled its duodenoscopes in January and did repairs over several months to reduce the risk of infection.

Duodenoscopes are threaded down a person’s throat to diagnose and treat digestive tract problems such as gallstones, cancers and bile duct blockages. The tip of the snake-like device has proven difficult to clean even when following the manufacturer’s instructions, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs can spread from one patient to another.

Although infections have been tied to scopes made by other companies, Olympus dominates the market and its scopes remain in wide use.”

Read the entire article here: Grilled About Deadly Superbug Outbreaks, Execs At Scope Maker Olympus Take Fifth

As much as hospitals would like to point the blame at endoscope manufacturers for the recent outbreaks, litigating such matters can be an uphill battle. Hospitals and their staff must do all they can to ensure they are meeting or exceeding recommended guidelines for endoscope reprocessing. In the unfortunate event of an outbreak, hospitals must also be prepared with electronic documentation to ensure that potentially infected patients are notified and brought in for testing as soon as possible.