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Medical device sterilization may still lead to patient injuries

Some medical devices used by hospitals and doctors throughout South Carolina for such common diagnostic procedures as endoscopies have come under the regulatory microscope of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA reports that following the procedures provided by the instruments' manufacturers may not be enough to keep patients safe from injuries caused by infections.

Hospitals in other parts of the country experienced deadly outbreaks of bacterial infections in patients on whom the devices were used after hospital staff disinfected the devices using standard methods. Because the devices are so widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, discontinuing their use is out of the question.

Government recommendations for continued use of the equipment include the suggestion that hospital staff perform laboratory tests, including culturing, to verify the safety of the equipment. This is seen as a temporary measure until manufacturers can improve the design of the devices to allow them to be thoroughly disinfected after they are used.

As this story illustrates, it is difficult to keep patients safe from infections even when hospitals follow the latest procedures recommended by the government and by manufacturers of medical devices. The potential for patient injury rises when hospital negligence is involved. Failing to follow strict sterilization and disinfecting guidelines increases the likelihood of infections and illnesses.

Concerns by health care providers over medical malpractice lawsuits from either a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis sometimes lead to more frequent use of the latest medical devices to improve diagnosis and treatment.

If you believe you might have contracted an infection from the use of a medical instrument or device, a medical malpractice law firm might help obtain compensation.

Source: SC Now, "FDA wants more info on scopes linked to 'superbug' outbreaks," March 12, 2015

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