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Family of UCLA ‘Superbug’ victim sues medical scope manufacturer

UCLA
(Thinkstock)

The family of a woman who died after undergoing multiple procedures at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a medical scope blamed for spreading a superbug sued the manufacturer of the device today.

The lawsuit by the family of Antonia Cerda is the second filed against Olympus America Inc. in three days over the superbug, known as CRE, which has infected seven patients at the Westwood hospital. Two of those patients died.

Aaron Young, 18, filed a lawsuit against Olympus on Monday, saying he was exposed to the bacteria twice since October. Both suits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and allege products liability, negligence and fraud. The Cerda family lawsuit also claims wrongful death.

Olympus spokesman Mark Miller did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

According to the Cerda family lawsuit, Antonia Cerda underwent multiple procedures with the Q180V duodenoscope in October 2014.

“As a result of the exposure to this contaminated device, decedent suffered significant injury and died,” according to the lawsuit.

Both lawsuits, filed by the same attorneys, alleges that Olympus redesigned its Q180V duodenoscope last year, but no clear method for cleaning it was offered.

“The manufacturer must ensure that the validated reprocessing protocol is disseminated to medical facilities and professionals,” Young’s suit states. “Olympus failed to take these critical steps with the redesigned Q180V scope.”

Instead, Olympus provided hospitals and doctors with a safety cleaning protocol for an older endoscope with a “significantly different design,” the suit states.

“As a result, end-users were not able effectively to sanitize and clean the new redesigned scope,” the suit alleges.

Olympus management has known that the complex design of its endoscopes renders some parts of the device hard to access and as a result cleaning them is difficult, the suit alleges.

The suit does not blame UCLA for the superbug outbreak.

“The UCLA hospital complied with the reprocessing protocols provided by defendants in its operation and use of the Q180V scopes it purchased,” the suit states.

Despite such compliance, Young and other patients were infected with a “highly drug-resistant bacteria,” the suit states.

UCLA officials have notified 179 patients who underwent endoscopic procedures between October and January that they may have been exposed to the superbug, known as CRE. Hospital officials traced the infections to a pair of Olympus scopes.

According to his lawsuit, Young is still a patient at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

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