Bronchoscopes are becoming more and more commonly used, both in hospitals and by ENTs (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists). Due to their small size and flexibility, bronchoscopes can be used to view areas of the throat, head, and sinuses that other tools simply cannot reach safety or effectively. Bronchoscopes have allowed doctors to make better, quicker diagnoses of a number of diseases.
Because they are used for an invasive procedure, and are particularly associated with being used with people who are suffering from an infection, it is extremely important that bronchoscopes be properly disinfected between uses. Each manufacturer has set detailed guidelines regarding precisely how to disinfect their product. It is pivotal that healthcare professionals follow these guidelines exactly.
Following reports of infection from people who were exposed to bacteria and viruses while having a bronchoscopy, the federal government began to look into whether or not these guidelines were being followed on a regular basis. Even a single breakdown in protocol would drastically increase the odds of spreading infections. With over one hundred recorded cases of people becoming sick, it is important for regulators to determine what is going wrong.
Initial investigations yield three likely possibilities for why these infections are developing, including:
- Medical professionals are failing to properly follow manufacturer specifications regarding the proper disinfecting of their product
- Medical professionals are continuing to use bronchoscopes that have suffered severe material degradation that makes proper sterilization impossible
- The manufacturer guidelines are not sufficient to insure that bronchoscopes will not transmit infection between patients
All of these are severe problems, and determining the culprit is of the utmost importance. If manufacturers have not developed proper sterilization guidelines, or if sterilization is impossible, healthcare workers need to be made aware immediately. If hospitals and doctors are not following those recommendations, or are trying to maximize profit by using the same bronchoscopes past the point of safety, they must be held accountable.
If you or someone you love has been become sick due to medical malpractice, it is important that you hold the guilty accountable. All too often doctors, hospitals, and medical manufacturers will continue with the same unsafe practices until someone stands up and makes them stop. Find a qualified attorney who can help you hold them responsible for their actions.