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Unsterile Endoscopes Not Only Disgusting, But Deadly

A endoscope-thumb-150x87-21496.jpgcolonoscopy, gastroscopy or duodenoscopy isn't on anyone's list of favorite things to do, but every year 15 to 20 million patients go through these uncomfortable procedures for the positive impact on their health. Disturbingly, a new medical study reveals that it's common for the instruments used in these procedures to be unsterile, carrying "biological dirt" on them from prior patients.

Researchers found that approximately 15 percent of endoscopes were insufficiently cleansed before use. The study's authors recently presented their findings at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) conference. Specifically, researchers found that:

  • 30 percent of duodenscopes were unsterile
  • 24 percent of gastroscopes were unsterile
  • 3 percent of colonoscopies were unsterile

These numbers are enough to make anyone queasy, but the potential harm from unsterile scopes extends far beyond disgust. Blood infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be transferred from patient to patient through miniscule amounts of biological dirt. Physicians and nurses are aware of these risks, so there should never be corner-cutting when it comes to sterilization procedures. Yet, there is a history of deadly disease transmissions resulting from unsanitary scope equipment.

If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with a bloodborne infection after receiving a endoscopy, it may be the result of a failure to properly sanitize equipment. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you assess your rights.

McKeen & Associates, PC, is a national medical malpractice firm based in Detroit, Michigan. The lawyers at McKeen & Associates have used their expertise to help clients across the nation. Visit McKeen's case results page to see some of the verdicts and settlements they've obtained for clients.

Source:, "Endoscope Equipment Often Not Properly Cleaned: Study," Irvin Jackson, June 11, 2013

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