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Could multiple defendants be sued for superbug outbreak

Last week we highlighted the “superbug” outbreak at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where two people died and several others were infected with an antibiotic resistant bacteria called CRE (known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae). We highlighted the need for hospitals to use reasonable care in sanitizing equipment and cleaning surfaces that may harbor bacteria, and how the failure to use such care in doing these things could lead to a lawsuit

But when it comes to litigation and multiple culpable parties, it may be difficult to determine which party is actually liable. And the superbug incident may be no different. According to a recent report, the manufacturer of the endoscope at the center of the controversy may be at odds with the hospital as to who would be responsible for the outbreak. 

After all, the endoscope is reportedly notoriously hard to clean, and the hospital claims that it followed the manufacturer’s protocols. Meanwhile, the manufacturer maintains that meticulous manual sterilization is necessary; which suggests that it believes that the hospital may not have been thorough in cleaning the instruments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors about the difficulty of completely cleaning these instruments.

Regardless, this appears to be a situation where both the hospital and the manufacturer could be named as defendants in a negligence suit. The parties would then blame each other for the incident and look for a way out of the lawsuit. In the meantime, it appears that patients who were sickened by the tainted instruments could be in the process of filing suit. 

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