With technology continually revolutionizing the way the world operates and the things we are able to do, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. As discussed previously, technology affects every industry, including the medical industry. Mostly, technology does move the industry forward and allows hospitals, staff and related third-parties to provide a better quality care experience. However, sometimes well-intentioned technological advances can have the opposite effect.
One particular medical device, the Olympus scope, has been the focus of several lawsuits due to patient injury. These lawsuits revolve around potentially fatal infections associated with the use of the model TJF-Q180V duodenoscope. A duodenoscope is a slender, flexible medical device scope that is utilized by inserted through the mouth and used for a variety of medical procedures. The design of the Olympus scopes, according to the FDA, makes them difficult to thoroughly clean. This has resulted in hundreds of infections by a ‘superbug’ known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.
This infection causing bacteria has been known to render those infected seriously ill or even worse in surgical accidents, the infection has also been linked to unnecessary deaths. Since a different product design, one that is easier to clean, would have been preferable to this one that harbored bacteria, Olympus has since recalled the medical device. For those lawsuits alleged that patients reported suffering septic shock, high fever, sepsis and other complications caused by CRE infections. The redesign of their product made them easier for medical staff to use, but harder to clean.
This is obviously an unwanted side effect and a patient’s health and well-being trumps the ability of a medical professional to use the device with ease. Other injured patients have successfully sued the company seeking damages for injuries sustained. Since the company should have foreseen an inability to clean the medical device, liability falls on them. Technology can clearly have a darker side and a poor medical device design is one of them.
Source: injury.findlaw.com, “Olympus Scopes Lawsuits,” Accessed Dec. 4, 2017