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Massachusetts Hospital Slammed with Endoscopy Infection Lawsuits

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Westfield, MAA potentially damning Endoscope lawsuit accuses the Baystate Noble Hospital located in Westfield, Massachusetts, of putting patient health at risk in what has been described as a “preventable” situation involving endoscopy equipment. It has also been alleged that hospital officials knew of the issue some three years before affected patients were informed.

According to 22 WWLP Television (4/6/16), the hospital had introduced new endoscopy equipment to the endoscopy department and had placed the new devices into service for the performance of colonoscopies between June 2012 and April 2013.

However, according to court records associated with the endoscopic infection lawsuit and the WWLP report that has been carried nationally by the Associated Press (AP 4/6/16), there were issues with the disinfection and cleaning process that has proven to be an Achilles’ heel for other endoscopes.

In this case, the state Department of Public Health discovered during a routine inspection that only three of the four prongs associated with the new equipment were being properly cleaned and disinfected. The report went further to detail that while the new endoscopes pressed into service during the months between June 2012 and April 2013 featured four prongs, the disinfectant equipment utilized by the hospital was three-pronged.

Thus, older disinfecting equipment was being used to clean newer devices. The result, according to plaintiffs, is that the disinfectant solution used as part of the final disinfection process was not getting to the fourth prong.

It has been reported that back in January, no fewer than 293 patients were sent a communication from the hospital to inform them about the possibility of potential exposure to hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

Some 25 of those patients have filed an endoscopic infection lawsuit against the hospital, alleging amongst other claims that the hospital was aware of the potential threat to colonoscopy patients as early as 2013, but failed to divulge the potential infection issue to affected patients until January 2016.

A joint reported issued by the Department of Public Health and the Director of Clinical Safety and Risk Management for Baystate Noble concurred the incident was “preventable.” The medical malpractice lawsuit(s), therefore, assert that had the proper equipment been used for cleaning the endoscopes, the potential infections could have been prevented.

Additionally, lawsuits assert that hospital officials could have alerted affected patients sooner - when the problem was first discovered in April 2013 - rather than waiting until 2016.

It should be noted that Noble was an independent hospital at the time the potential infections might have taken place. Noble has since been swallowed into the Baystate Health network.

The defendant in the endoscope negligence lawsuits released the following statement:

“We have completed testing for 243 of the 293 patients who were affected. We are still making every reasonable effort to reach and offer testing to the remaining 50 patients who have not been tested yet. To do this, we have mailed two certified letters to their homes and followed up a third time with phone calls. It remains our hope that all 293 patients will get tested, but the decision to do so is solely theirs to make. To date there is no evidence of any transmission of illness from the endoscopes. The safety and privacy of our patients remains our top priority as we move forward in this process.”

Plaintiffs having filed a surgical infection lawsuit are not satisfied by this position. The infections, to which plaintiffs have been potentially exposed, can be extremely serious.


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