A hospital in Los Angeles announced Wednesday, August 19 that some of its patients have contracted an antibiotic-resistant “superbug,” which has been linked to a type of medical scope used in the procedure, and has infected dozens of people around the country.
Huntington Memorial Hospital said in a statement that it notified public health authorities, after several of its patients who had procedures using Olympus Corp. duodenoscopes were found to have the resistant pseudomonas bacteria.
The hospital said it has quarantined the scopes while it investigates whether they may be linked to the infections.
The statement made no mention of the total number of infected patients or their conditions.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the issue was discovered in June and three patient infections have been reported to health officials.
Drug-resistant bacterial infections around the country have been linked to contamination of the reusable scopes, which are used for a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The fiber-optic scopes are placed down a patient’s throat and used to diagnose and treat gallstones, blockages and cancers of the digestive tract.
“The patients who experienced the bacterial growth were very ill before they underwent the scope procedure, and the risk of the procedure was explained to each patient and family,” Huntington Memorial’s statement said.
A dozen infections were reported earlier this year at Cedars-Sinai and at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Centers in Los Angeles, and three patients were proclaimed dead.
The hospitals said the infections occurred even though the devices had been cleaned to the manufacturer’s standards. They have since implemented more stringent disinfection procedures.
Olympus is the market leader for duodenoscopes in the U.S., accounting for about 85 percent of sales, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
On Monday, August 17, the FDA posted a warning letter online that said Olympus waited three years to alert regulators to a cluster of 16 infections in patients who underwent procedures using the scope in 2012.
Additionally, FDA inspectors found that the company currently has no standard procedure for promptly reporting serious problems with its devices, which is a requirement for medical device companies.
The company said it was reviewing the FDA’s warning.
The FDA also posted warning letters Monday to two other scope manufacturers citing problems with the testing, design, reporting and quality control of their devices. (With reports from the Associated Press)