Ronald Reagan Medical Center officials are now attributing two deaths to a new superbug they have identified among their patients. The LA Times is now reporting that the hospital is taking swift action to determine whether an additional 179 patients have been exposed to the drug-resistant bacteria.
The superbug, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, has been linked to a particular model of endoscope used in a common procedure. The hospital is now screening patients who have undergone an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, between October 2014 and January 2015. The procedure has become a common, noninvasive way to treat patients with digestive system issues.
A spokesperson for the UCLA hospital has stated that the endoscopes in question have been identified and removed from use. CDC officials have also revealed that they have found no sanitation violations by hospitals dealing with similar outbreaks, pointing to a possible issue with the manufacturer’s design. Ronald Reagan Medical Center’s endoscope supplier, Olympus Medical Systems Group, is working with the FDA and hospitals in regards to concerns about their products, but stands by the cleaning instructions they have provided to their customers.
The hospital is now racing to contact other patients who may be at risk and, in some cases, providing an at-home swab test to determine the presence of the bacteria. Endoscope expert Lawrence Muscarella told the Times that this latest outbreak, when included with others identified at other hospitals “could collectively be the most significant instance of disease transmission ever linked to a contaminated reusable medical instrument.”
A Growing Industry Concern
This latest outbreak at Ronald Reagan Medical Center is just one of several documented in hospitals nationwide over the last few years. Medical groups, manufacturers, and regulators are struggling to keep up with these incidents and many are citing a need for reform in the medical device review and response process. As Mr. Muscarella also pointed out “Hospitals and manufacturers often take months to assess what to do, with the infected patients being the last to know.”
If you have been treated at Ronald Reagan Medical Center in the last few months and believe that you have been exposed to CRE, then call The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP today. Our dedicated legal team is ready to assess your case and, if necessary, provide the representation and advocacy you need to seek proper restitution.