Virginia Mason fails to report "superbug" outbreak

The Seattle outbreak entailed dangerous or deadly infections spread by tainted dueodenoscopes, even after cleaning according to Manufacturer’s guidelines.  This latest report from the Washington State Department of Health faulted Virginia Mason for failing to properly notify state health officials of the outbreak, via a required report that tracks such dangerous events – Virginia Mason detected 39 infections and 18 deaths linked to the outbreak.  Virginia Mason issued a statement explaining how the reporting of the incident came to be.  But for the readers of our Products Blog, it's important to note that Virginia Mason was not found to be at fault for its handling of the procedures conducted here, including how it cleaned the duodenoscopes in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.  This is to say that the report confirms that this is first and foremost a product design (and perhaps product warning) problem.  Virginia Mason may well be liable in other ways for its handling of the case, but that will play out in court and indeed Virginia Mason is facing lawsuits by families of patients harmed by the bacteria.  Virginia Mason has in turn sued the manufacturer of the devices.  The fact that patients could contract a nightmare bacteria this way is an outrage; we can only hope that the lawsuits will help to ensure that dangerous products are not brought into our hospitals, and will educate our hospitals on how to handle such situations should they arise again.

Fiat Chrysler accused of neglect in 23 recalls

Here at SGB we hold product manufacturers accountable. Our defective automobile product liability team commends everyone reading this New York Times article concerning the strong allegations of Chrysler's neglect and corner cutting, all of which needlessly endangers lives. Bravo to the Federal Regulators for conducting the rare public hearing concerning safety issues focused on a single auto manufacturer. If you drive a Chrysler, you should look into the various recalls; it  might help you to avoid driving a vehicle that is defective and dangerous.

Deadly Superbug Bacteria - "CRE"

The Seattle Times reported that dozens of patients of patients at Virginia Mason Medical Center were infected with the "Superbug" bacteria carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) between 2012 and 2014. The article reported that the infections occurred when endoscopes contaminated with bacteria were used on other patients. That is, a scope used in one patient was then used in another patient without being adequately cleaned beforehand, thus transferring a disease from patient to another. Most of the patients in question underwent a procedure "known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, which diagnoses and treats bile-duct and pancreatic problems. The VMMC came under fire when patients learned that the hospital officials did not disclose the nature of the illness at the time of the infection.

The manufacturers of the particular scopes used (called duodenscopes) have also come under scrutiny because the scopes themselves may have been defectively designed by allowing these bacteria to transfer from one patient to another, even if the the clean procedures were followed. In March, CNN reported that some of the endoscopes involved in one CRE Superbug death case were not cleared by the FDA prior to use. One large manufacturer, Olympus America, reported began "selling its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope in 2010, but the FDA didn't notice until late 2013 or early 2014 that the company had never asked for clearance to put it on the market..." Families of those who were injured or dies as a result of the defective endoscopy scopes have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers. VMMC has joined a lawsuit against the scope manufacturer Olympus, alleging that the endoscope was defective.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "healthy people usually do not get CRE infections - they usually happen to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings." The frightening thing about these Superbugs is that "some CRE bacteria have become resistant to most available antibiotics. Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly - one report cites they can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected." After all the attention to the Superbug, the White House has developed a Superbug action plan that addresses CRE, and the CDC has issued a new duodenscope protocol for healthcare facilities to use to reduce the spread of the Superbug.

Toyota Recalls 1.4 Million and Honda Adds 1.39 Million Cars to Recall Due to Faulty Air bags

According to the Associated Press, " Toyota is adding nearly 1.4 million cars, trucks and SUV's to a growing recall for air bags that can explode with too much force." The previous recall has been expanded based on further concerns that the air bags, made by Takata Corp. of Japan are defective. This recall will add the "2003 to 2007 Corolla and Matrix, 2005 and 2006 Tundra pickup, 2005 to 2007 Sequoia SUV and the 2003 to 2007 Lexus SC430 convertible," the AP reports. Takata last month gave in to pressure from the NHTSA "and declared many of its products defective, agreeing to double the number of air bag inflators being recalled," according to AP, and making it "the largest auto recall in US history." According to the USA Today, as part of the NHTSA's expanded recall of faulty Takata air bags, Honda "said it will recall another 1.39 million cars to replace the same component" as Toyota. Since the initial announcement, 11 affected car manufacturers "have been trying to figure out which of their models need to be included," the article reports.

Deadly Asbestos: the story goes on

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has fined two asbestos removal companies $379,100 for failing to remove asbestos from a demolition site in Seattle. The recipients of the fines are Partners Construction of Bonney Lake and Asbestos Construction Management of Federal Way.  The material left behind consisted largely of asbestos based “popcorn” ceiling. This type of news report reminds us as to just how dangerous asbestos can be. Even asbestos found outdoors and not in a confined space is an alarming event, as evidenced by Australian officials concerns when a contracted mower accidentally mowed over illegally dumped asbestos. Any disturbance of asbestos fibers emits airborne carcinogens, which if breathed can result in deadly cancer and other asbestos related diseases. If you have popcorn ceiling or suspect asbestos anywhere in your home or office, you’ll definitely want to hire a professional to give you an assessment. Unfortunately, the asbestos story continues.