FDA Warns About Dirty Bronchoscopes

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/ Source: Associated Press

Federal health regulators are drawing attention to the risk of infections with medical scopes used to examine breathing passages, following similar problems with scopes used in the stomach and intestines.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a notice Thursday to doctors and nurses who use bronchoscopes -- flexible tubes with lights used to examine the throat and lung airways. The FDA received 50 reports last year citing infections or contamination with the devices, even after they had been disinfected.

While that number is small compared to the 500,000 bronchoscope procedures performed annually in the U.S., the FDA is reiterating the importance of thoroughly cleaning the devices after each use.

The FDA came under fire earlier this year following a series of dangerous bacterial outbreaks in hospitals using a different type of medical scope. That scope, called a duodenoscope, caused an outbreak of drug-resistant superbugs at a UCLA hospital earlier this year.

FDA cited Olympus Corp. for failure to tell it about infections in patients who underwent procedures with the company's scope in 2012. It's since found that the devices are tricky to clean.