11 Patient Deaths from Dirty Scopes at LA-Area Hospital

LOS ANGELES, CA – The LA Times reports that 16 patients were infected by dangerous bacteria from medical scopes at Huntington Hospital from January 2013 to August 2015, including 11 who have now died.

The report stated that many of those patients were already severely ill, including some with cancer. Health officials said that only one of the 11 death certificates listed the bacteria as the cause. It was not clear if infection was a factor in any of the other deaths.

The hospital had previously said just three patients were infected in the outbreak that officials said was limited to the middle of 2015.

The patient infections were detailed in the Pasadena Public Health Department’s investigation into the outbreak. The report blamed both the design of the scope and the hospital for lapses in infection control.

Pasadena health officials said they had found no additional scope-related infections since the start of their investigation on Aug. 19.

The investigation said that Huntington doctors had started doing their own review of possible infections in July after finding three patients sickened with drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The hospital staff had identified as many as 35 cases of possible infections, which they had been evaluating before Pasadena officials arrived on Aug. 20 in an unannounced site investigation. The health officials concluded that 15 of these cases were linked to procedures the patients had with an Olympus scope.

Huntington doctors told health officials on May 23 that they were now notifying all patients who had been treated with the scopes since January 2013 about the possibility of infections.

In January, Olympus recalled one model of its reusable duodenoscopes because of the possibility that it could transfer bacteria between patients. That model was linked to two other Southern California outbreaks at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The Times also reported on Dec 19, 2015 how Olympus kept US hospitals in the dark about deadly infections. Olympus controls 85% of the U.S. market for gastrointestinal scopes.

U.S. prosecutors and congressional investigators are looking into how Olympus and two smaller scope manufacturers responded to the superbug outbreaks.