Olympus Duodenoscope Infections

Patients who underwent medical procedures using an Olympus, Pentax or Fujifilm Duodenoscope are filing lawsuits after being infected with the so-called  “superbug” bacteria. Used to examine and diagnose diseases found in the small intestine, gallbladder and pancreatic duct, the device spread antibiotic-resistant microbes through the body. The manufacturers never adequately warned patients and doctors that this instrument could cause serious infections until the FDA recalled it on January 15, 2016.

Device Type: Duodenoscope

Injury:  Bacterial Infections

Manufacturer: Olympus

Total Cases: Undetermined

Settlement Amounts: $6.6 million

Bellwether Trial Start Date:      Unkown

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What is an Olympus TJF-Q180V Duodenoscope?

In a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a small tube-like medical device called endoscope or duodenoscope is inserted into the mouth and down into the esophagus to examine the duodenum and nearby structures such as the pancreatic duct and gallbladder. The device constantly pumps air into the stomach and intestine to keep them inflated enough for the small camera mounted on its tip to see any abnormality. Doctors are then able to watch the images transmitted into a TV screen, and diagnose various conditions which may affect these regions of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreatobiliary system. The duodenoscope may also be used to inject substances locally through a catheter or perform X-rays and biopsies.

Why is This Endoscope Dangerous?

The newer TJF-Q180V Olympus duodenoscopes have been re-designed to close an internal channel which might have accumulated blood and foreign materials during the operations. The purpose was to reduce the risk of infection when the device was re-used in other patients after it was properly cleaned and disinfected.

However, an outbreak of superbug infections quickly developed in September 2013 at the Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, when the endoscope started being used by the healthcare facility’s staff. Apparently, the closed-channel design was indeed defective, and caused the probe to remain contaminated even after it was cleaned. Large amounts of highly infective bacterias spread from patient to patient, causing life-threatening diseases every time it was reused.

Why was the Olympus Duodenoscope recalled?

A Senate investigation initiated in January 2015, by Senator Patty Murray found that many major U.S. hospitals experienced similar epidemics of antibiotic-resistant microbes, and all of them seemed to be linked with the use of the newer duodenoscopes manufactured by Olympus, Fujifilm and Pentax.

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dug deeper into the matter, found that the devices were never properly authorized. The manufacturers did not submit the new design for clearance before marketing and distributing the modified probes. On January 2016, Olympus finally decided to recall the TJF-Q180V Duodenoscope to fix the health epidemic issues and then received clearance for a newly optimized design that reduced the risk of leakage into the closed channel.

Current Status of the Olympus Duodenoscope Litigation

On March 5, 2015, the first Olympus Duodenoscope lawsuit was filed by a woman who lost her husband during a superbug infection outbreak at the Virgin Mason Medical Center in Seattle in 2013. The man passed away in 2013 after no antibiotic could fight off the E. coli bacteria that spread through his body. Other plaintiffs have filed similar litigations through the country, although no MDL has been centralized, yet.

On July 2017, a jury ordered Olympus Corp. to pay a $6.6 million compensation to a Seattle hospital to account for a deadly epidemic caused by the duodenoscope. One of the families of the deceased patients was awarded $1 million in damages. According to the verdict, the company was aware of the infection risk caused by potential flaws in the scope’s design. However, it still purposedly failed to warn the regulators as well as the public about these life-threatening dangers.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a superbug infection after an endoscopy procedure, you might be eligible for a large cash compensation. Our personal injury lawyers will help you sue the manufacturers for damage, including lost wages, negligence and medical bills. Call our law firm today to receive a free legal consultation with no obligation.