Seattle Hospital Reports Contaminated Scopes Even After Cleaning

Following meticulous manual cleaning done by a Seattle Hospital over the past year, three percent of duodenoscopes are still contaminated. Virginia Mason Medical Center started the “costly and extraordinary measures” of manual cleaning and testing of each ERCP endoscope after a CRE superbug outbreak at its hospital. Researchers published their findings in a journal article online Monday in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Bloomberg estimated that about 15,000 operations in the country would be performed with a contaminated scope if other hospitals experienced a similar rate of dirty endoscopes following cleaning. In February, the FDA issued an alert that it may not be possible to clean the medical scopes.

Olympus, the largest manufacturer of duodenoscopes, subsequently issued updated instructions for decontamination of its devices. It is unclear whether the procedures followed by Virginia Mason exceeded the standards set by Olympus for cleaning. Since the updated instructions were only sent to medical facilities at the end of March, and a device needed to perform the full procedure was not immediately available, it is unlikely that any of the device decontaminations used the new guidelines.

UPMC in Pittsburgh, following its own outbreak, purchased additional duodenoscopes and put contaminated scopes into quarantine until they could be assured that they were not infected with bacteria.

Last week, stories ran in both the Seattle Times and the News & Observer that mentioned our law firm. For additional information about this area of our practice, please visit the section of our website dedicated to superbug infections.