Hospitals Continue to Lose Expensive Endoscopes to Thieves

TEANECK, N.J. – Approximately $260,000 worth of endoscopes have recently disappeared from New Jersey hospitals, law enforcement officials say.

The endoscopes are slender cables with cameras attached to their ends and are used by doctors in medical procedures to examine a patient’s stomach, colon, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, esophagus, or bile duct. High end models can shine light and broadcast video, as well as take biopsies, provide suction and introduce liquids. They can be sold on the black market, over the Internet or sold overseas for anywhere roughly between $20,000 and $40,000.

Since spring of this year, a total of nine endoscopes have been stolen from Englewood, Ridgewood and Teaneck hospitals in New Jersey.

Such thefts have occurred elsewhere. In England, $560,000 worth of endoscopes were reported stolen from a hospital last year. In a Pennsylvania hospital last year, $100,000 worth of endoscopes were stolen, and in 2002 a Florida hospital lost $400,000 worth of endoscopes.

Though police are not sure how the medical devices are being stolen, they believe the thieves use the personal bags given to hospital patients. Teaneck Detective Thomas Melvin believes the thefts are part of a large, orchestrated operation, with several thieves working in tandem.

Holy Name hospital, one of the hospitals that found itself a victim of the thieves, have now locked away their endoscopes in the endoscopy unit, which can only be accessed by hospital staff.

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