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Deadly bacterial outbreaks blamed on medical device maker and hospitals

Today's modern medical advances have saved and improved the lives of millions of patients in the U.S. and abroad. Due to developments in equipment and technique, many procedures that were previously considered invasive and required hospitalization are now considered routine and completed within a matter of minutes.

With any medical procedure, no matter how small or routine, proper cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment are critical to reducing the likelihood of infection, complications, hospital readmission and even death. While U.S. hospitals have strict sterilization protocols for medical devices like scopes, device manufacturers also have a legal duty to ensure that the products they market and sell to hospitals are designed in a way that makes them easy to clean and use.

A recent Senate committee report details at least 250 cases in which patients developed potentially deadly infections after undergoing procedures in which specialized medical devices called duodenoscopes were used. According to the report "patients were sickened by dangerous bacteria that remained on specialized scopes even after they were cleaned according to manufacturers' directions."

Between 2012 and 2015, an estimated 25 separate outbreaks of life-threatening bacterial infections, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae bacteria and atypical strains of E. coli, were linked to the scopes. What's more, the senate report asserts that the while device's manufacturer knew about the dangers posed by the scopes in early 2013, the company waited roughly two years to notify hospitals.

Additionally while hospitals in several states, including New York, that used the scopes noted an increase in infection rates, most failed to notify federal regulators about the infection outbreaks.

Source: CBS News, ""Superbug" infections from dirty hospital scopes climb," AP, Jan. 14, 2016

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