Medical Scope Maker Execs Plead 5th When Questioned About Deadly Superbug Outbreaks

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Three senior executives at medical scope maker Olympus Corp. repeatedly invoked their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned recently about internal company emails dealing with its role in superbug outbreaks.

The showcase for Olympus products on the exhibit floor at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Chad Terhune/Los Angeles Times)

The showcase for Olympus products on the exhibit floor at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Chad Terhune/Los Angeles Times)

The executives declined to answer questions about the correspondence during two days of depositions in Tokyo on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in a U.S. civil case against Olympus, according to lawyers representing a Seattle hospital and a patient’s widow.

The company emails, first reported by the Los Angeles Times and Kaiser Health News, are key evidence in several pending civil suits against Olympus. They also could be relevant to an ongoing federal probe.

The emails show that Susumu Nishina, one of the three executives deposed, told the company’s U.S. managers in February 2013 not to issue a broad warning to American hospitals despite reports of scope-related infections in Dutch, French and U.S. hospitals.

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