As many as 179 patients may have been exposed to a drug-resistant strain of bacteria – known as a superbug – during endoscopic procedures at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center last week due to the difficulty in sterilizing a complicated piece of medical equipment.

What happened?

Two duodenscopes inserted down patients’ throats to diagnose and treat pancreatic and bile duct issues may have exposed patients to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae even though they had been cleaned according to manufacturer’s specifications, according to Reuters. The two instruments have been removed from service and other equipment is now being more rigorously decontaminated, but the infections may have contributed to two deaths, the agency reported.

The issue is not a new one

In addition to buttressing concerns about the lack of proper sterilization of complex medical equipment – occurring in Seattle, Chicago and Pittsburg over the last two years – the most recent outbreak highlights the growing threat of bacteria that do not respond to standard anti-bacterial treatment.
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