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Gassy babies are unhappy babies. Hence the need for simethicone, the main ingredient in many infant anti-gas medications you could buy at a grocery store and pharmacy. But it turns out simethicone has a few other uses as well, like reducing bubbles inside the body that can impede visibility during colonoscopies and other procedures. So doctors started injected liquid drops of simethicone into gastrointestinal scopes during procedures.
The problem with that tactic, however, is that simethicone may not be easy to clean from the scopes, leading to infection outbreaks.
Simethicone on the Scope
Researchers in Minnesota examined colonoscopes and gastroscopes after they had been cleaned, disinfected, and were supposedly ready for use on the next patient. What they found on several of the scopes was a cloudy, white fluid contained simethicone. While simethicone can make infant gas-relief drops more palatable for babies, researchers also say it "could provide the perfect habitat for the growth of bacteria" inside scopes.
"Finding residual fluid in scopes that should be dry would be troubling alone," said Cori Ofstead, the study's lead author. "The finding of fluid containing simethicone suggests we have more serious problems. It could explain why we are having more trouble getting these scopes clean." While no specific infections have been linked to simethicone drops yet, the study suggests that their use could heighten the risk of contamination.
Health on the Line
And contaminated scopes can be incredibly dangerous. Certain scopes have been linked to 25 superbug outbreaks, infecting over 100 patients and killing at least three. These duodenoscopes are hard to clean as it is, without the addition of extra drops containing simethicone and silicone, and, according to Philly.com, scope manufacturers Pentax Medical and Fujifilm have warned health-care providers against injecting drops into the scopes because residue can impede cleaning.
Health care providers and medical device manufacturers can be held liable for injuries caused by device mishandling, misuse, or defective devices. And if you've been infected following a procedure with an unsterilized or defective scope, you may be entitled to compensation. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.