July 25, 2017
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Olympus ordered to pay $6.6 million in damages related to superbug outbreak

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Endoscope manufacturer Olympus Corp. was ordered to pay $6.6 million in damages to Virginia Mason Medical Center after a jury decided the company failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions after a since-recalled duodenoscope model was manufactured, according to court documents obtained by Kaiser Health News.

The jury also found the Seattle hospital’s negligence played a role in the death of Richard Bigler, a patient who acquired an infection linked to a contaminated scope, and ordered it to pay $1 million to his family, who filed the suit against Olympus.

“We’re sorry for the grief and anguish experienced by the Bigler family,” Virginia Mason said in a statement by email. “This was a complicated trial that lasted more than 8 weeks. The verdict includes multiple decisions and we will continue reviewing them over the next few days.”

Notably, the jury also ruled that the TJF-Q180V model duodenoscope involved in the case was not itself unsafe in design. The company recalled more than 4,000 of these scopes last year due to concerns that their complex design could increase the risk for bacterial infections, following a number of high profile “superbug outbreaks” linked to contaminated scopes used in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures.

“Olympus is grateful for the jury’s careful deliberation and decision that let the facts determine the outcome of this case,” an Olympus spokesperson said in a statement by email. “We offer our condolences to the Bigler family. We are appreciative that the jury recognized that Olympus’ duodenoscope design was safe and did not contribute to Mr. Bigler’s unfortunate passing in 2013.”