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Family files wrongful death lawsuit against medical scope manufacturer

The family of Antonia Cerda, one of two patients who have died from UCLA’s recent “superbug” outbreak, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the manufacturer of scopes known to have transmitted the bacterial infections. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kristen Taketa

Feb. 25, 2015 9:19 p.m.

The family of a patient who died from UCLA’s recent “superbug” outbreak filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a health care device manufacturer for wrongful death, alleged negligence and fraud.

Antonia Cerda, who was a 48-year-old mother of four from Corcoran, died in November after she contracted a superbug infection from two endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, procedures with contaminated duodenoscopes in October at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The duodenoscopes, manufactured by Olympus Corp. of the Americas, spread the superbug carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, among UCLA patients because their design makes the devices difficult to completely sterilize.

Cerda is one of two patients who died after being exposed to CRE during procedures with the duodenoscopes between January 2013 and December 2014. At least seven other patients have been infected, including 18-year-old Aaron Young, who also filed a lawsuit Monday against Olympus alleging negligence and fraud. Peter Kaufman, an L.A. medical device lawyer, is representing both Cerda’s family and Young, who is currently hospitalized at UCLA’s medical center but is gradually recovering, Kaufman said.

Kaufman said both parties are alleging negligence because the cleaning protocol that Olympus provided for the duodenoscopes appears to have failed.

UCLA is not named in either lawsuit because the hospital said it followed the cleaning protocol provided by Olympus. Kaufman said he does not yet know of any negligent action by UCLA.

Kaufman said he is representing multiple cases of patients infected by the superbug and he will consolidate them to bring forward to court at the same time.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Thursday that the Olympus scopes have a design that makes them difficult to clean. Olympus said in a statement Thursday that it has received 95 complaints about bacterial infections because of the scopes. Hospitals have used the scopes because they are the least invasive way to conduct the ERCP procedure.

Neither Olympus nor UCLA could be immediately reached for comment.

Compiled by Kristen Taketa, Bruin senior staff.

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