The Los Angeles Times reports,
he hunt for a deadly superbug that sickened 22 patients at a Dutch hospital began just before noon on a spring day in 2012.
Inside a lab in the tiny hamlet of Zoeterwoude, a technician carefully peeled back the tip of a state-of-the art medical scope. Watching him intently was a small group of hospital officials and executives from Olympus Corp., the maker of the device.
A 2012 inspection by Olympus and Dutch hospital officials revealed a brown film inside a duodenoscope. (Arjo Loeve / Delft University of Technology)
The Olympus technician found trouble right away. He spotted a brown, grimy film inside parts of the flexible, snake-like scope — parts that were supposed to be sealed. A rubber ring designed to keep bacteria out was cracked and worn. The same bacteria that had sickened the patients were found on the scope.
An investigator hired by Olympus and the hospital concluded that the scope’s design could allow blood and tissue to become trapped, spreading bacteria from one patient to another. In his report, he called on Olympus to conduct a worldwide investigation and recall all its scopes if similar problems turned up.
Over the next three years, 21 people died and at least two dozen more became ill from infections related to scopes in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Los Angeles. An unknown number of other patients have been infected. The Food and Drug Administration has identified 10 outbreaks, seven of which involve Olympus scopes.
Instead of acting responsibly, Olympus concealed the truth and killed people.