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Data Suggests 15,000 Exposed to Dirty Endoscopes Per Year


April 9, 2015 — As more hospitals report outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” data from one hospital in Seattle suggests that 15,000 patients per year are exposed to a risk of infection on dirty duodenoscopes.

Earlier this year, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington linked duodenoscopes with 32 “superbug” infections and 11 deaths. Patients were infected with antibiotic-resistant E. coli between November 2012 and August 2013.

After implementing high-level disinfection and “meticulous manual cleaning,” they still found that 3% of the scopes were still contaminated and had to be re-cleaned.

According to Bloomberg:

“On average, about one scope a week is still contaminated after cleaning. If every U.S. hospital had a similar rate, that would mean 15,000 operations a year performed with dirty ERCP endoscopes.”

Now, even more hospitals are reporting “superbug” outbreaks on duodenoscopes. The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported 8 patients tested positive after being treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in 2013 and 2014.

Mississippi News Now reports that hospitals across the state have reported cases, including 40 seen in the last few years at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

After major outbreaks in California, Illinois, and Washington, the FDA warned that the complex design of duodenoscopes makes them extremely difficult to sterilize between uses. If the scopes are contaminated with bodily fluids, they can transmit infections among patients.

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