Justice Department expands investigation into scope-related bacterial outbreak

The Justice Department has subpoenaed three duodenoscope manufacturers — Olympus America, Pentax and FUJIFILM — and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, seeking thousands documents relevant to an investigation into a deadly series of superbug outbreaks, according to a USA Today report.

Previously, news outlets reported that Olympus revealed it received a subpoena in a financial disclosure. The broader reach of the investigation, including the subpoenas to other duodenoscope manufacturers, is new information.

Several other hospitals that experienced similar scope-related infection problems told USA TODAY they have not been subpoenaed. The subpoena sent to Virginia Mason does not detail the exact nature of the investigation, but does relate to healthcare offenses as defined in federal criminal statutes.

Rando Wick, a lawyer representing Virginia Mason, told reporters the supervising attorneys "certainly are casting their net widely in terms of what kind of documents they're seeking." He continued, "We're talking about, literally, thousands of pages of material that they're asking for."

News of the subpoenas come amid Olympus America's filing of a countersuit against Virginia Mason, which claims the hospital failed to clean the device and use it properly and that the hospital damaged Olympus' reputation with its claims that the scopes are impossible to clean properly.

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