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Is hospital negligence to blame for outbreak of superbug?

When a patient enters into a hospital for treatment, he or she expects to receive the best possible care. What a patient does not expect, is to receive is a superbug from the medical devices used to treat him or her. Unfortunately, however, this may be exactly what has happened in a recent California incident.

A recent outbreak of deadly bacteria at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles has raised the issue of possible hospital negligence. The outbreak stems from the use of duodenoscopes, a type of medical scope. The scopes, which are difficult to clean due to their design, may harbor life-threatening bacteria, known as CRE, even after cleaning. This CRE bacteria is resistant to antibiotics and has spawned what is known as a superbug. Two UCLA patients died following exposure to CRE via the scopes, and at least seven other patients have been infected. Over 170 additional patients may have also been exposed to this bacteria via the scopes.

Interestingly, this is not the first outbreak connected with these specialized scopes. Previous outbreaks occurred in Florida and Seattle. The Florida outbreak, which occurred in 2008 and 2009 and affected 70 patients, including 15 who died, also involved the use of duodenoscopes. Eleven patients connected with the Seattle outbreak died, and 21 additional patients were affected in a 2012 outbreak that did not become widely publicized until January, 2015.

Prior knowledge of this potential for deadly infection via the scopes raises the question of whether or not the hospital was negligent. Anyone who thinks that he or she may have received negligent treatment by hospital staff should seek out an experienced attorney who can advise the patient of his or her rights, and discuss whether there are available options to recover compensation for such treatment.

Source: The Durango Herald, "Scopes spawn superbugs," John Tozzi, February 28, 2015

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