Device manufacturer sued again in 'superbug' outbreak at LA hospital

A 76-year-old man infected with a drug-resistant "superbug" at a Los Angeles hospital has sued the manufacturer of a medical device that caused the illness in the fifth lawsuit related to the bacterial outbreak at the facility, his attorney said on Tuesday.

Plaintiff Domingo Gomez, who was infected by a contaminated device during an endoscopy at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, suffered significant harm from the infection, according to his lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Gomez' attorney, Peter Kaufman, declined in a phone interview to release more information about the man's condition or say why he initially went to the large teaching hospital.

UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center officials have acknowledged that seven people were infected with carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria, or CRE, during endoscopies at the hospital between Oct. 3 and Jan. 28 and that two of them later died.

Kaufman said his firm has filed lawsuits against Olympus Medical Systems Corp, the manufacturer of the endoscope device, in five of those cases, including on behalf of Gomez. He said he was unaware of any other suits tied to the outbreak at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

The complex design of the endoscopes, which are used to examine a patient's digestive tract, linked to the California outbreak may hinder proper cleaning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned.

Hospital officials have said that, aside from the seven cases of confirmed infections, 172 former patients were informed they may have been exposed to the superbug and they were offered home test kits.

No new infections have been discovered among that group but four former patients were determined to be carriers of the disease, which does not put them at immediate risk, said Dale Tate, a spokeswoman for UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

A spokesman for Olympus declined to comment on the lawsuit.