A Washington woman last week leveled the latest lawsuit against Olympus (TYO:7733) over a deadly "superbug" infection she allegedly acquired from 1 of the company’s endoscopes during a gallstone operation.
A flurry of the so-called superbug infections across the country in recent months, including several deaths, have prompted several lawsuits against Olympus over its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope.
Debbie Newton’s lawsuit, filed in Pennsylvania’s Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County, alleges that her Feb. 7, 2013 endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedure left her on life support due to heart failure, respiratory failure, renal failure, pancreatitis, septic shock and bacteremia.
Although Newton was discharged from the hospital after 2 weeks, she was diagnosed with pancreatitis, acute shock, septic shock, bacteremia, ARDS, heart failure, acute kidney injury and gallstones, the lawsuit alleges. She was hospitalized again in 2013 and sought emergent care for kidney and colon infections as recently as last week, according to the complaint.
Newton also accused Olympus of putting the device on the market without FDA approval of the design change implicated in the superbug infections.
"As a direct result of the aforesaid exposure and subsequent infection, Debbie Newton has suffered grave, serious and ongoing injuries which are serious and permanent in nature, including but not limited to, [carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria] infection, septic infection, multiple organ failure, diverticulitis, colon infection, depression and other various ills and injuries which Debbie Newton still suffers and will continue to suffer for an indefinite period of time into the future," according to the lawsuit.
Last week a 76-year-old man infected with a drug-resistant "superbug" at a Los Angeles hospital sued Olympus as well; earlier this month, the widow of a patient who died after being infected with E. coli by an Olympus endoscope sued Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center and the company for wrongful death. And a top Los Angeles hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said in March that 4 patients had been infected with bacteria from a contaminated scope and 67 more were at risk. Across the country in Connecticut, Hartford Hospital has also reported a similar outbreak involving at least 5 infections and more than 280 potential exposures.
Between 2013 and 2014, the FDA said it received reports of 135 possible microbial transmission from reprocessed duodenoscopes. The federal safety watchdog has been under pressure to review current protocol of sterilizing the instruments after a string of superbug outbreaks at hospitals across the country.