Keeping endoscopes clean is an extremely important part of any surgical or endoscopy operation. Dirty scopes can lead to the spread of infection from one patient to another, and can cause potentially deadly infections.
Recently, hundreds of such infections have been traced back to improperly maintained endoscopes, often related to inadequate training and lack of awareness to best practice recommendations for endoscope reprocessing.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that medical facilities make in maintaining their endoscopes.
- Accessible and visible policy, procedure and IFU documentation - While most endoscopes share common functionality, the individual components can be very different. Seals, joints and moving pieces may be oriented in different ways and require special attention from one manufacturer’s product to the next. Healthcare facilities typically have multiple devices in rotation at any given time, and need to keep their staff well informed about the different characteristics and cleaning procedures for each one. This begins with proper training on how to handle endoscopes from day one, as well as keeping IFUs and procedures associated with each scope easily accessible for reference.
- Improper point of use care and handling - The most effective and efficient way to prevent bioburden buildup on endoscopes is to have them reprocessed quickly after use. While this is sometimes not possible due to time constraints and heavy turnover, there are steps that can be taken to prevent scopes from drying out. Once bacteria, bodily fluids and tissues begin to dry on the scope they become much harder to remove, and can even leave behind a clear film that is not visible during the cleaning process. This means that even a scope that has been processed may not be properly clean if the cleaning did not penetrate that filmy residue. The best way to fight this is to employ proper point-of-use cleaning of available surfaces, and reprocess the device before bioburden has a chance to dry.
- Inadequate inventory - Even a healthcare facility with well-designed cleaning procedures can suffer from overwhelming demands. In cases where patient turnaround times are short, endoscope reprocessing technicians may feel pressure to cut corners and skip steps in the cleaning process. This is a surefire way to end up with costly repairs and poses a high risk for infection. A good way to combat this is to ensure that the facility has enough scopes on hand to handle the volume, and to make sure that broken scopes are being repaired or replaced quickly to prevent shortages.
Scopes that are not properly reprocessed present an obvious health risk to patients and a tremendous financial burden for the facility as well. Scopes that are not are not well maintained can cost thousands of dollars each year in repairs alone.
On the other hand, endoscopes that are well taken care of can be expected to live out their useful lives with proper maintenance.
For more information about comprehensive endoscope repair and maintenance, contact PREZIO Health today. We will be happy to answer any questions about care and handling recommendations and standards, along with offering a consultation and quote.