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Bacteria-infected scopes are still being re-used on patients

Hospitals and other health care facilities have a duty to keep patients safe from harm while they have medical procedures. This includes protecting them from bacterial infections and other illnesses-causing bugs. 

Unfortunately, certain gastrointestinal scopes can contain bacteria and other debris, even after vigorous cleaning. Among these are gastroscopes, colonoscopes and duodenoscopes, the latter which has been known to cause outbreaks of the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infections that can be fatal. All three scopes have the potential to put patients at risk for dangerous infections.

A study was published January 30, 2017 in the American Journal of Infection Control that examined contamination in scopes. The seven month study found bacterial growth in 12 out of the 20 gastroscopes and colonoscopes that researchers examined. They also pulled 17 scopes from the study that had serious defects and need to be returned to the manufacturer. 

Scopes were tested after cleaning and disinfecting them according to current guidelines. Many of the scopes had scratches and dents, which can collect blood, tissue and bacteria. 

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration regulates medical devices, and encourages hospitals to immediately remove any scopes that show signs of damage.

“Physicians, other caregivers, hospitals and regulators should be paying keen attention to this issue, as patients have a right to assume that clean instruments are being used on them,” said Cori Ofstead, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Medical professionals who are negligent in removing these scopes could be liable if a patient infection occurs. If this happens to you or a loved one, contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of a medical malpractice claim.

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