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The Real Risk of Dirty Medical Scopes

California Medical Malpractice Law Firm

ScopeWhen we visit the hospital for surgeries and other services, we can reasonably expect our doctors to use clean, sterile, and safe products to serve our needs. Medical products and devices are tested and retested to ensure that they are safe for public use; however, occasionally, bad products can get on the market and cause harm to patients. One example of this is the recent recall of the Olympus duodenoscopes -- a popular tubular scope used to examine and conduct procedures in the upper gastrointestinal tract of patients. This scope caused harm to an estimated 141 patients across nine states -- California included. When medical products inflict injury or illness upon patients, that patient may be entitled to compensation.

Medical Products Liability and Medical Malpractice Claims Medical Products

In the case of the Olympus scopes, the design of the scope made it such that cleaning it thoroughly after use was difficult. The instructions for the device actually indicated this, and reports later revealed alleged failures by manufacturers and hospitals to report outbreaks of illness associated with the use of these devices. The issue rests first, then, on companies like Olympus to make and test products that can be effectively sterilized and used on patients. Second, the hospitals themselves need to be accountable for the equipment they choose to use and the methodology they employ to clean and sterilize the materials between each patient. Doctors themselves have little say in the technology available to them, but a doctor who has knowledge that a medical device cannot be properly sterilized also has a responsibility to the patients he treats.

Many medical products are used and then reused with other patients. Though disposable items are prevalent in a hospital, the expensive, complicated medical equipment is usually shared by many patients, maybe even in a single day. This leaves a great responsibility on the staff sterilizing the instruments to do a thorough job to ensure the safety of the subsequent patients. Failure to clean a device properly may lead to an outbreak of illness, which is what happened with the medical scopes. Bacteria formed on the devices and was transferred between patients between uses, causing a bacterial infection to the affected patients.

Medical Malpractice

Hospitals, their staff, and the products and services they choose to provide for their patients must meet a certain standard. There is a duty imposed on hospitals to use reasonably safe medical treatment and a duty imposed upon doctors to use an appropriate standard of care when treating their patients. Doctors’ duties extend far beyond the equipment they are using, and broadly encompass the treatment of the patient. Some common medical errors that result in injury include:

  • Misdiagnosis or fail to diagnose;
  • Surgical complications;
  • Anesthesia complications;
  • Failure to order necessary tests or make referrals;
  • Over-prescription of medication;
  • Radiology (X-Ray) errors;
  • Stroke misdiagnosis; and
  • Emergency room errors and oversight.

While mistakes do happen, it is possible to use the legal system to hold someone accountable for those mistakes. Some of the mistakes result in minor injuries or illnesses, where others can be life-threatening and lead to death.

Regardless of whether you are facing a serious complication or death of a loved one, there are legal remedies available to you. If you are seriously injured, you may consider pursuing a medical malpractice claim against the physician that caused your injury. You may be entitled to recover compensation for your time away from work due to your injury, your medical expenses, pain and suffering, future medical costs, and loss of enjoyment of life depending on the circumstances of your case and your financial situation. If death resulted due to a medical error, wrongful death lawsuits are available remedies and allow the estate of the decedent to recover on the decedent’s behalf.

San Jose Medical Malpractice Attorneys

At Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., our skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys know how to navigate both injury claims and wrongful death claims. We can help walk you through your options, the process, and will make sure you understand what is going on in your case every step of the way. We understand that a medical error can have a significant impact on your personal, emotional and financial well-being. Having incidents of defective medical products in our state makes it all the more apparent that these things do happen to people just like us and that there are remedies available to the victims of this wrongdoing. We proudly serve clients in Northern California; please call us today at (408) 289-1417 or contact us online.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.