A recent outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which has caused deadly infections at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center has caused widespread fear. While health officials are urging calm regarding the outbreak, multiple deaths have already occurred.
The bacteria involved are called carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriacae, which are highly resistant to even the strongest antibiotics. This outbreak is unlikely to spread because the source has been identified and eliminated.
Though it appears that the Federal disinfection guidelines were followed, some have raised liability questions. The scope cited as the source of the outbreak, a duodenoscope made by Olympus, is currently under FDA investigation. They are also reviewing models made by other manufacturers such as Fujifilm and Pentax.
Duodenoscopes are commonly used to perform procedures on the gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreatic ducts, a series of thin tubes that reach from the liver to the small intestine. An internal review by the UCLA Medical Center found that the FDA and manufacturer mandated cleaning protocol did not remove the deadly bacteria from the scopes.
Medical Negligence When there is No Negligence
The UCLA Medical Center’s internal investigation found that the bacteria responsible for the outbreak became embedded in the scopes, even following cleaning. Their new cleaning process involves using a gas, which can successfully eliminate the bacteria.
Medical negligence law holds healthcare providers accountable for personal injury and wrongful death that occur when they do not adhere to proper practices. In this case, it appears the hospital did everything that was known to disinfect the devices. This means that any injuries or deaths would not be related to negligence by the hospital.
This raises questions regarding product liability for the device makers. Medical device makers are responsible for their products and for ensuring they work properly, without injuring their users.
While it is presently unclear whether the device makers will be held liable for the infections and deaths caused by this outbreak, Olympus, Fujifilm, and Pentax have all released statements saying they are investigating the causes of the outbreaks. Surely, this is to head off any potential product liability suits claiming they should have known about the risk of infection.
The only way to answer these questions will be when a case is brought to trial. While many cases of this nature are settled out of court, there may be a case that provides answers to questions of liability in this matter.
Find a Representative if You are Infected
This incident illustrates the complicated nature of medical negligence cases. Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have resources to protect themselves from liability. Those who have been affected by this issue must go to a lawyer with experience, who will fight for their clients’ rights.
Those sickened by medications or medical procedures, even those properly conducted, may still be entitled to compensation for damages and losses. The law is meant to put common people and the powerful on equal footing, so ensure that you have a fighting chance by looking for experience in your representation.
Those who are injured or who have lost loved ones due to this infection have the right to seek damages from those responsible. Get professional legal advice in order to get the best award possible.