A grieving widow is suing because what should have been a safe, routine medical procedure performed at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, has caused the death of her husband.
A Statesville, North Carolina resident, Bill Warner, died after being infected by “lethally drug resistant bacteria,” (called a “superbug”) which remained lodged in the crevices of a duodenoscope after failed sterilization of the instrument. Deadly design flaws apparently made it impossible to properly and adequately cleanse the scope of deadly brown scaly deposits after previous use.
The procedure leading to his death is called ERCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. It is a test that checks the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
Mrs. Carla Warner suit reveals that after undergoing the procedure her husband suffered intense pain and lost 60 pounds. He subsequently died in November of 2013 at the age of 55. Aggravating the tragedy was the fact that the infection is contagious, causing Mr. Warner to be isolated from his friends and family prior to his death.
The suit names the culprits as the Food and Drug Administration (for not preventing the situation from unfolding in one hospital after another), and Olympus Corporation (Olympus America Inc) , a primary scope producer linked to deaths in at least six instances. Olympus is alleged to have kept secret from the government information about 16 patient infections that took place three years ago. Also blamed is Custom Ultrasonics Inc, which designs, produces and sells the scopes.
The problem is widespread, causing a nationwide health scare tied to diagnostic scopes. 179 patients treated with the scope at UCLA medical center in Los Angeles were exposed to the bacteria, eight were infected and three have died. A similar bacteria took the lives of 10 patients in Minnesota in 1987. Other outbreaks have occurred in Pittsburgh, in Illinois near Chicago, and in Seattle.
The widow’s lawsuit charges that the deadly medical devices are tied to health problems and warnings not only in America, but abroad, going back as long ago as thirty years. Approximately 670,000 ERCP procedures were performed in America in a recent year.