The company behind a medical device that has caused deadly bacterial infections in Seattle will voluntarily recall its scopes.
A global outbreak of infections linked to scopes built by Olympus America started as early 2012. In the U.S., more than 140 patients have been infected. At Seattle's Virginia Mason, at least 39 people were infected and 18 died.
The problem was traced back to the company’s duodenoscopes, a flexible, lighted tube used to drain fluids and treat gastrointestinal conditions. Its design makes it difficult to clean.
Olympus has initiated a recall to replace the tip of the scopes with a new part that would help reduce infections.
“The fact that they’ve gone so far as to recall it obviously is a recognition that it’s a safety hazard,” said John Gagliardi, an attorney with the Luvera Law Firm in Seattle.
Gagliardi represents Theresa Bigler, whose husband died from an infection following a procedure at Virginia Mason. He says Olympus should have taken these steps years ago when problems were first reported in Europe.
“I wish they would’ve taken this more seriously the notice that they had three or four years ago, and maybe some of this tragedy that’s occurred could’ve been prevented,” he said.
The recall follows a U.S. Senate committee investigation initiated by Sen. Patty Murray.