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Topical Concern: Tardy FDA Response to Deadly Bacteria?

The sad saga regarding contaminated endoscopes goes on.

We last left off with this high-profile and nationally important health-related story in our February 23 blog post, informing readers therein that tainted scopes used to detect and treat digestive disorders resulted in the deaths of two patients at one California hospital. Additionally, several other patients at that facility were infected through contact with the scopes, with scores of ex-patients being notified that they, too, might be at risk.

The matter has only escalated since then.

In fact, a growing band of commentators is now stepping forward and asking troublesome questions regarding scope-related problems, most pointedly this: Why are officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration only now prominently addressing the subject and taking action, when the contamination problems have been known within the medical community for many years?

In fact, one nationally known doctor — now the president of the American Gastroenterological Association — says that he and his colleagues diagnosed the problem when it affected a number of patients treated at his clinic — back in 1987.

Now, Dr. John Allen flatly expresses frustration and bewilderment with what he and many others perceive as a grossly tardy response from the FDA regarding the deadly endoscope contamination problems. He calls it “disturbing that a fundamental design issue with these scopes would cause problems for this long.”

One legislator is calling for a national airing on the issue. He says he wants to know “what the FDA knew and when did they know it.”

The FDA issued an advisory on the scopes last week. Some doctors have expressed their view that only a fundamental redesign of the scopes or new sterilization procedures will effectively solve the contamination problem.