Colonoscopy Lawsuit Filed Over Unsanitary Equipment At Oregon Hospital

A woman is suing an Oregon hospital for failing to properly sanitize its colonoscope, potentially exposing her and other patients to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other bloodborne illnesses. 

The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in January against St. Charles Medical Center-Bend by a woman who claims she had to undergo testing for STDs and other illnesses after the hospital used an improperly sterilized colonoscope on her and nearly 20 other patients last September.

The hospital has already admitted the mistake in a letter to the plaintiff. In the letter, St. Charles CEO Jay Henry says that the problem with its colonoscopy procedure stemmed from a programming error. The hospital has apologized for the incident and says that it has addressed the problem, but not before at least 18 procedures were performed with the nonsterile scope.

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According to a local media report by, St. Charles facilities in Bend and Redmond were identified in a study last year as the only hospitals in the state that failed to use a surgical checklist recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Hospital officials say they are working on incorporating the checklist into their procedures.

Other incidents involving improperly cleaned colonoscopy and endoscopy equipment have led to bloodborne illness scares that have affected tens of thousands of patients in recent years.

In January 2008, Las Vegas health officials shut down two endoscopy centers that were linked to over 100 reports of hepatitis C caused by technicians reusing needles and vials of medication intended for only one patient. At least 40,000 people treated at the clinic between March 2004 and January 2008 were notified that they may have been exposed to hepatitis and other blood borne diseases. Nearly 120 people were ultimately diagnosed as having contracted Hepatitis C following those procedures.

In 2009, about 11,000 veterans treated at three VA clinics in Tennessee, Georgia and Miami were notified that they may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV infection due to improper use and cleaning of endoscopy equipment used for colonoscopy tests and ear, nose and throat exams.


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