Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Superbug Infection Lawsuits and Dangers

Health Inspectors Declare “Immediate Jeopardy” Endoscope Safety Violations at Los Angeles Hospitals

On March 4, 2015, state health inspectors declared a rare “immediate jeopardy” ruling for certain medical scopes at Los Angeles’ UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, which according to the inspectors put patients at risk by violating multiple safety standards. Inspectors discovered “staff using contaminated water and a tainted liquid cleaner dispenser being used to ready colonoscopes and other devices for the next patients,” as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Twenty-one days later, inspectors raised another immediate jeopardy notification again, this time for LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

These immediate jeopardy notifications were issued well after the deadly “superbug” outbreak from contaminated medical scopes occurred last year, where at least six people died from the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infection at two hospitals in Los Angeles. An immediate jeopardy ruling is one of the most serious violation notifications that can be imposed against hospitals and healthcare facilities. Hospitals can lose their participation in Medicare, as well as be fined as much as $100,000 for each violation, if the attendant problems are not resolved.

Antibiotic Resistant Superbug Infections at U.S. Hospitals in 2014, 2015

From late 2014 to early 2015, outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant superbug infections were reported at numerous hospitals across the United States. These infections were alleged to have been caused by defectively designed medical scopes (duodenoscopes). After every procedure, duodenoscopes must be reprocessed and properly cleaned before the scope can be used on a new patient. As explained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if “not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, tissue or fluid from one patient can remain in a duodenoscope when it is used on a subsequent patient.” This can lead to patient-to-patient CRE infections. Lawsuits filed by patients infected by these “superbugs” allege that the scopes design makes cleaning difficult or near-impossible under real-world conditions.

Seven more patients were recently found to be infected with CRE at the UCLA health facility, raising the total number of people sickened by the contaminated scopes to fifteen. Four patients at Cedars fell ill to the deadly infections as well.

“You would think these very sophisticated leading facilities would have been on a hospital-wide alert,” stated Lisa McGiffert to The Times, who leads the safe patient project at Consumers Union. “Hospital leadership is not putting enough resources into infection control.”

Contact an Endoscope Infection Personal Injury Attorney

Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented thousands of patients across America injured by defective and dangerous medical devices. We currently represent patients who developed “Superbug” CRE infections after undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), as well as the families of patients who died as a result of such infections.

If you or a family member developed CRE following an endoscopic procedure, please contact an experienced injury lawyer at Lieff Cabraser to discuss your case. You can also call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to injury attorney Lexi Hazam or Wendy Fleishman. There is no charge or obligation for our review, and your information will be held in the strictest confidence.