After Richard Bigler’s death due to pancreatic cancer caused by a contaminated Olympus scope, Theresa Bigler filed a lawsuit against Virginia Mason Medical Center. In turn, the hospital filed a case against their supply company, Olympus. However, a 12-member jury determined that the hospital also shared some blame and thus they needed to compensate the affected family. The compensation was set at $1 million whereas Olympus was ordered to pay $6.6 million damage fee for a superbug outbreak which had affected the hospital’s reputation.
Olympus was impressed with the jury’s decision, and one of its officials gave a condolence message to the Bigler family on behalf of the company. In their statement, Olympus appreciated the jury for acknowledging that their duodenoscope design was safe and was not the cause of Mr. Bigler’s death. However, the jury blamed Olympus for failing to give adequate warnings regarding the scope and also instructions on how to safely use it. This, according to the jury, led to the death of Bigler and also ruined the reputation of Virginia Mason Medical Center. One member of the jury claimed that Olympus hadn’t been playing by the rules for a long time and hence the verdict was appropriate since it held the company accountable.
According to the jury, Olympus was supposed to prioritize patient’s safety over their profit gains. One of the Olympus experts admitted that trials and lawsuits could help in behavioral change hence the ruling would most probably convince Olympus and other device managers to work by the rules. Most medical and legal experts were surprised at how Olympus fared in the case considering that there were numerous similar lawsuits against the company.
There are more than 25 families and patients who have sued Olympus due to wrongful deaths, negligence, or fraud. As a result, federal prosecutors are investigating Olympus to determine their potential role in patient infections. Considering that Olympus duodenoscopes are used to treat and diagnose problems in the digestive tract such as bile duct blockages, cancers, and gallstones, it is imperative that the devices are made with utmost precision.
Evidently, Olympus acted recklessly by failing to warn U.S. hospitals about previous superbug outbreaks and also for not fixing an outright design flaw in their scope which made disinfection and cleaning hard. On the other hand, the hospital should have asked for a cleaning and disinfection manual from Olympus to ensure their patient’s safety. All in all, the decision was fair for all the affected parties.