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Olympus Scopes Lawsuits

A duodenoscope is a tool used in various medical procedures, including biopsies of small intestine tissue. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the way Olympus designed its scopes made them difficult to clean. This resulted in hundreds of infections by a "superbug." This superbug was carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

Dozens of patients sued Olympus Corp., one of the manufacturers of these scopes, for potentially fatal infections. These infections were due to the defendant's TJF-Q180V duodenoscope.

This article will provide an overview of the issues associated with Olympus scopes. It will also discuss the device manufacturer's alleged negligence and other details about the Olympus scope lawsuits.

Olympus Scopes and CRE Infections: Overview

The first time experts raised serious concerns over the scope of Olympus was in 2013. Hospital staff at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle noticed superbug infections related to the duodenoscopes made by Olympus.

The Seattle Times broke the story 16 months later. Reports of similar superbug outbreaks arose from at least 16 other hospitals. According to a U.S. Senate investigation report, the manufacturers and the FDA didn't inform people about these risks until a year after the outbreak.

Another problem is that Olympus didn't seek approval from the FDA until it began selling its redesigned device. More than 250 people got sick or died from the new model.

Olympus recalled the device and replaced one of its essential parts. They also replaced the operating and reprocessing manuals for disinfecting the device.

Wrongful Death: An Olympus Scope Lawsuit

Not only were hundreds of patients hurt by the medical scopes, but many died as well. At least 11 out of the 32 patients infected at the medical center at Virginia Mason died.

Olympus Corp. argued that many of these deaths had nothing to do with the bacterial infection because the patients had terminal illnesses. However, some patients, such as Richard Bigler, died directly as a result of their CRE infection. His wife, Theresa Bigler, sued Olympus for wrongful death. Bigler, a Seattle, Washington resident, had pancreatic cancer. His death certificate listed a drug-resistant form of E.coli as having played a role in his death.

Bigler's widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the hospital and Olympus. She argued the company knew its product was unsafe but failed to take action. She also claimed the hospital was negligent by not informing infected patients about the outbreak and the risk of infections.

Bigler eventually dropped her suit against the Virginia Mason Medical Center when it joined Bigler's suit against Olympus America Inc. in May 2015.

Many other American patients sued Olympus after experiencing CRE infections after ERCP procedures. Nearly half of those infected with the superbug died.

Other Wrongful Death Claims Related to Olympus Endoscopes

Many other patients' families sued Olympus Medical Systems for the death of a loved one. Victims got sick and died due to a lack of proper cleaning. This was due to the scope's defective design.

Some of the wrongful death actions against Olympus include:

  • Renate Winkler - 82-year-old Renate Winkler died from an infection after having a procedure using the Olympus scope. Her family argued that the defendant was negligent. They claimed the scope's design didn't allow for proper cleaning.
  • Antonia Torres Cerda - Mr. Cerda and his family sued on behalf of his wife, Antonia Torres Cerda. Mrs. Cerda underwent procedures at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. These procedures involved the Olympus scope. The patient died as a result of various infections and health issues. The plaintiff sued both the manufacturer and sales representatives.
  • Debbie Newton - Ms. Newton underwent a gallbladder procedure using the Olympus scope. She developed heart, respiratory, and renal failure after her procedure due to infection, including CRE. She sued the defendant for negligence. She argued that Olympus attempted to fix its design flaw without FDA approval.

These cases represent just a few patients hurt due to the Olympus scopes. These lawsuits, and most of the others, settled in 2018.

Other Claims Against Olympus

Many plaintiffs claimed that Olympus's redesign of its duodenoscopes made them harder to clean. Many lawsuits alleged fraud by Olympus. They also named other scope manufacturers such as Pentax and Fujifilm.

Plaintiff Aaron Young, who nearly died from a CRE infection after a lengthy hospital stay, sued Olympus for negligence and fraud in February 2015. His complaint claims Olympus failed in its duty to provide an effective and validated reprocessing protocol. Knowing the difficulty in properly cleaning the device and the resulting danger of infection, the suit claims the company made false representations about its safety.

Olympus argued that hospital staff wasn't correctly cleaning the devices. They eventually conceded that its cleaning instructions were inadequate for proper sterilization. They ended up providing updated instructions to doctors and hospitals.

Get Legal Help With an Olympus Scope Lawsuit

If you believe you contracted CRE or some other superbug after being treated with an Olympus scope, contact an injury attorney right away. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may be able to recover damages.

If you don't believe your case is strong enough to pursue legal action, report your injuries. The FDA and medical device manufacturers must know the product isn't safe.

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