UCLA MEDICAL CENTER & CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER PATIENTS’ FOUND IN “IMMEDIATE JEOPARDY” AFTER MEDICAL SCOPE SUPERBUG OUTBREAK

California State Health Inspectors from the Department of Public Health in 2015 found two leading California hospitals in violation of numerous safety requirements that appeared to put their patients in “immediate jeopardy”.  The violations were found at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on March 4, 2015 and also at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center just 21 days later.   The state of California launched these investigations right after the notorious “superbug” outbreak reported last year that centered around hard to clean medical scopes that reportedly resulted in serious illnesses and some incidences of wrongful death in California.

At the UCLA Medical Center the state of California reportedly declared “Immediate Jeopardy” which meant that lives were at imminent risk after finding contaminated water and a tinted liquid cleaner dispenser that was used to prepare colonoscopes and other medical devices for patients.

At the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the state of California again issued its very rare “Immediate Jeopardy” ruling when it reportedly found “a widespread pattern of potential ineffective sterilization and storage of surgical instruments” as well as disinfection of medical scopes.

It is most reassuring to know that both of these well respected medical institutions worked extremely quickly with the health inspectors – UCLA amazingly resolving its problems in just three (3) hours and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in just one day.   Further, on follow-up visits, the California health inspectors found these problems at these two hospitals had NOT continued.

Both hospitals have stated they were not aware of any patient illnesses that resulted from these new cited problems at their medical facilities.

The most surprising part of these investigations may be that two such well respected hospitals could have such problems right after the infamous medical scope “superbug” outbreaks.  When the “superbug” outbreaks occurred from late 2014 to early 2015 from the duodenoscopes – the type of medical scope devices linked to these infections – these two hospitals and others stepped-up cleaning of their medical scopes before reuse on future patients.

Duodenoscopes are long snake-like tubes with tiny cameras at their tips used in medical procedures involving patients’ upper respiratory tracts.

What led to these new violations was because the California health inspectors on follow-up visits wisely investigated more than the cleaning of the infected duodenoscopes.  The California Department of Public Health now looked at the hospitals’ practices in disinfecting all of their gastrointestinal scopes, devices and surgical equipment. The Los Angeles Times on May 15, 2016, at A1 and A14  lists and describes in more detail many of the reported violations for those interested.

Previously, both UCLA and Cedars-Sinai hospitals linked their superbug outbreaks to duodenoscopes obtained from Olympus Corporation.   It is reported that Olympus Corp. had knowledge since around 2012 that its scopes were defective in that their design could allow bacteria to remain even after cleaning, but it did not remedy this defect or warn its customers or users of their scopes.  As a result, many hospitals in the United States continued to use these medical scopes with normal cleaning procedures, which clearly were not sufficient, resulting in many illness and even some deaths.

At UCLA Hospital it is believed that 15 patients were made ill by these defective medical scopes, including three who died.

At Cedars-Sinai Hospital it was reported that an additional four (4) patients were sickened by bacteria known as CRE from these defective medical scopes.

If you were injured by a defective duodenoscope or other medical scope, or if a family member was injured or killed because of using a duodenoscope or other improperly disinfected medical scope, you should contact our personal injury & wrongful death lawyers and law offices now.

You also should seek immediate medical attention and when able request a copy of all medical records, which should include copies of all reports, records, chart notes, and lab tests and results.

 

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