U.S. Senate Releases Results of Investigation into “Superbug” Outbreaks Linked to Duodenoscopes

A U.S. Senate investigation report released on Jan. 13 reveals details regarding patients infected with potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to contaminated duodenoscopes. The design of the duodenoscope can lead to challenges in sanitizing the device between uses.

From 2012 to 2015, more than two dozen outbreaks of infections affected at least 250 patients in the U.S. and Europe, according to the Washington Post.

The investigation revealed multiple flaws in the warning system in connection to the infections:

  • Manufacturers failed to information health officials about potential problems connected to the devices
  • Hospitals failed to alert federal regulators about outbreaks
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was slow to identify the problem and issue alerts to the public

The Senate report calls for legislative and regulatory changes that would help health officials more quickly identify and resolve problems with medical devices.

In August, PAMED reported on FDA-recommended supplemental measures for duodenoscope reprocessing. The measures are microbiological culturing, ethylene oxide sterilization, use of a liquid chemical sterilant processing, and system repeat high-level disinfection.

Education from PAMED Helps You Improve Infection Control

In an online, on-demand CME course from PAMED, you can:

  • Gain knowledge concerning practicing effective infection control protocols to reduce transmission of infections
  • Identify improvements needed with regards to current routine infection control practices
  • Practice effective communication with a goal of reducing the potential for transmission of infections
  • Establish appropriate standard precautions to decrease transmission of infections
  • Recognize key infection control practices
  • Formulate improvements associated with infection control to reduce transmission and improve the health of the patient

Pennsylvania physicians can purchase an infection control plan from PMSCO Healthcare Consulting, a subsidiary of PAMED, which can be customized and includes policies and forms for your practice. PAMED members receive a discount.