SEATTLE — The superbug outbreak in UCLA’s Medical Center was not the first of its kind to make headlines.
A Washington state woman is suing the Seattle hospital and the medical device manufacturer responsible for her husband’s death after a similar outbreak in in a Seattle hospital in 2013.
Theresa Bigler has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in response to the passing of her husband in 2013. While Mr. Bigler was also suffering from pancreatic cancer, this spouse believes his expedited demise was caused by his exposure to and subsequent infection after a superbug outbreak at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital.
The outbreak occurred between 2012 and 2014 and resulted in over 30 people being infected by the drug-resistant bacteria carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae.
Eleven people died after being infected. It is believed the bacteria spread to dozens of patients through contaminated devices known as duodenoscopes. It is impossible to know at this point exactly how many people were infected by the superbug and the hospital only completed its investigatory analysis in January 2015.
The 11 individuals who died were critically ill when they were infected and, as such, their bodies were most likely unable to stave off any other condition. Mr. Bigler was one of these patients, as he was battling pancreatic cancer at the time.
The danger of these types of outbreaks, especially in hospitals, is that it is those individuals (especially the young and elderly) with already compromised or weakened immune systems who are most likely to die from exposure to a superbug.
The endoscopes in questions are manufactured mostly by Olympus America. It is alleged that the defective design of the product is responsible for the outbreak.
It is argued that even when staff followed the federal and manufacturer provided protocols for properly cleaning and sterilizing the scopes, they may still not be sufficiently clean for use. Mrs. Bigler is alleging that Olympus America knew its instructions were ineffective and that, as a result, the contaminated devices had caused infection and death.
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