Execs at contaminated scope company plead the Fifth.
Under federal investigation for their role in an outbreak of a “superbug,” three executives from Olympus Corp., a scope making company, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during recent questioning.
During two days of depositions, the executives refused to answer questions related to internal company emails, according to an article by Med City News.
The emails show that Susumu Nishina, one of the three execs, told U.S. company employees not to issue a warning to hospitals using the scopes, despite reports in Europe and in the U.S. that the scopes may have been the cause of infections.
More than 35 deaths tied to the scopes
The duodenoscopes are light and flexible scopes used to peer inside the body have been tied to more than 35 deaths that have resulted from infections since 2013. They are typically placed inside a patient’s throat, and used to diagnose digestive tract problems, including gallstones, cancers and blockages of the bile ducts.
However, their tips have proven to be difficult to clean, and some have even been shown to spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria from one patient to another. While Olympus isn’t the only maker of such scopes, and other companies are under investigation, they are the largest maker of scopes and come under particular scrutiny.
Emails are at the heart of these questions
According to investigators, emails show that Mr. Nishina wrote to U.S. company managers that it was not necessary to communicate the potential risks, as they were deemed acceptable.
It is common for executives to plead the Fifth Amendment under questioning.