Deadly superbug infections from tainted scopes greater than thought

A technician cleans a duodenoscope. The FDA issued advice to hospitals to follow manufacturer's instructions and also "meticulously" clean by hand a part of the scope that may harbor bacteria that is hard to get at, after reports that the scopes were spreading superbugs from patient to patient in several medical facilities around the country.

Story highlights

  • Potentially deadly infections from contaminated medical scopes is far higher than what federal officials previously estimated
  • As many as 350 patients at 41 medical facilities in the U.S. and worldwide were infected or exposed

The number of potentially deadly infections from contaminated medical scopes is far higher than what federal officials previously estimated, a new congressional investigation shows.

As many as 350 patients at 41 medical facilities in the U.S. and worldwide were infected or exposed to tainted gastrointestinal scopes from Jan. 1, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2015, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
    A separate Senate investigation released in January found 250 scope-related infections at 25 hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and Europe. That probe looked at a narrower period, from 2012 to 2015.
    The FDA supplied the new information in response to a yearlong inquiry by U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.
    The FDA says it is not permitted by law to name the medical facilities involved in the 41 incidents it disclosed. But the device manufacturers weren't identified either. The full report is expected to be released Friday.
    "It's really disturbing that the number of patients harmed and the number of facilities where this happened keeps rising," said Lisa McGiffert, director of the Safe Patient Project at Consumers Union. "It probably indicates the number will continue to increase as authorities dig deep