When it comes to maintaining equipment in a hospital environment, it is extremely important to make sure that all necessary staffers know how to properly clean and disinfect the scopes and other tools used in operations to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
In cases improper care and maintenance, infectious microorganisms such as CRE can spread among patients and cause potentially deadly outbreaks. In light of recent incidents across the nation, the FDA and endoscope manufacturers are working together to create a safer, more comprehensive guide for healthcare providers to maintain the cleanliness of their scopes.
In one notable case, it was reported that endoscopes had not been properly cleaned for a period of more than seven years. In this particular case, the scopes had been cleaned and placed in disinfectant, but later inspection revealed that the disinfectant was not being held at the proper temperature to fully eliminate the risk of spreading infection. The facility resolved the problem as soon as they were made aware of it, and made appropriate restitutions to potentially affected patients.
While this specific case, fortunately, does not appear to have caused any major outbreaks, similar cases in the state of Washington have had far more serious implications. In those instances, the improperly decontaminated endoscopes were found to be spreading CRE, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria with a high mortality rate. Beyond the reported cases, it is difficult to tell how many less serious infections were caused by the unclean scopes as minor infections are often treated without thought given to the source of the infection itself.
New cleaning procedures
In the aftermath of these cases, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working hand in hand with scope manufacturers to figure out better ways to keep scopes clean, even in hard to reach parts of the equipment, and to potentially redesign scopes so that future generations will not face such challenges.
In the meantime, many hospitals have taken it upon themselves to improve their processes by adopting more stringent disinfectant and testing programs to ensure that endoscopes are safe for each use. These new maintenance routines have cost hospitals a significant amount of money and often require extra staff to ensure that they are being fulfilled in a timely manner. This may make it difficult for smaller hospitals to adopt these procedures until the manufacturers issue new guidelines to handle each identified problem.
In the interim, many hospitals are hiring third party organizations that specialize in scope cleaning and maintenance. PREZIO Health is one such company. PREZIO Health can assess your facility’s processes, training and handling of large and small diameter endoscopes. Since most reprocessing systems require specialized equipment and competent staff to perform the maintenance, PREZIO Health’s expert team of assessors can provide viable solutions pending further guidance from the manufacturers. For more information on our services, please contact PREZIO Health today.