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Bronchoscope Infection Lawsuit Filed After Navy Vet’s Death


November 18, 2015 — The widow of a Navy veteran who died from antibiotic-resistant pneumonia has filed a lawsuit blaming his hospital for failing to adequately sterilize bronchoscopes that were used to examine his lungs, the Seattle Times reports.

The victim, Chief Petty Officer William Piersawl, is a resident of Lynwood, Washington who underwent several procedures involving bronchoscopes between 2009 and 2012 at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Seattle.

He was diagnosed with Gram-negative pneumonia, an antibiotic-resistant infection. In February 2013, he died from complications of pneumonia and lung cancer.

The lawsuit (PDF) was filed in February in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-00154).

The lawsuit originally blamed the VA hospital for failing to properly sterilize the bronchoscope according to the manufacturers’ instructions. However, it was recently amended to blame the scope-washing machine, also known as an automated endoscope repreossor (AER), made by Custom Ultrasonics.

Last week, the FDA ordered Custom Ultrasonic to recall 2,800 of the machines because they might not work, which the FDA says “could result in an increased risk of infection transmission to patients.”

The FDA has issued several warnings about disease-transmission on contaminated medical scopes, including bronchoscopes. Between January 2010 and June 2015, the FDA received 109 reports of infections or contaminated bronchoscopes, according to a Safety Communication issued in September.


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