Nearly all infection control and endoscopy societies agree that channel drying is an essential step when reprocessing endoscopes. The reprocessing of flexible endoscopes after use is a complex, multi-step process. Residual moisture within endoscope channels may promote retention and proliferation of waterborne pathogens, and inadequately dried endoscopes have been associated with growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium species within endoscopes. Channel drying helps preserve the disinfected condition of the endoscope following the automated endoscope reprocessor’s cycle by preventing the growth of bacteria.
Recent research links incomplete endoscope drying to multiple outbreaks of waterborne organisms. This research signifies that the methods of drying flexible endoscopes need to change and a recent multisociety guideline includes new drying recommendations. Prior to this newfound information, most of the available cabinet drying methods involved 70% to 90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol being injected into the endoscope channels to dry the channels. Alcohol was recommended because it purged and promoted the evaporation of residual water within endoscope channels, thereby decreasing the chances for bioburden buildup. However, inadequate data exists regarding possible benefits of alcohol flushes for channel drying. Based on new research, the updated guideline recommends drying the endoscope channels and areas not dried with a cloth with forced, pressure-regulated filtered air with a sufficiently prolonged flow of medical air through all accessible channels. For best results, it is ideal for this step to occur simultaneously for all channels and for a duration of at least 10 minutes.
Many hospitals are now evaluating drying cabinets with channel drying functionality built-in to reduce the infection risk from their scopes. Not all channel drying cabinets are designed the same way. Standard cabinets lack some of the critical functions automated cabinets offer, such as a constant flow of compressed, instrument-grade filtered air through internal channels and over external surfaces. Many other channel drying cabinets do not offer protection of scopes from outside elements or personnel due to their lack of security features. A new channel-drying endoscope storage cabinet using RFID technology called iRIScope from Mobile Aspects was introduced in the last several years to provide a simple way to dry the outside surfaces and channels of endoscopes while offering the advanced features of an automated endoscope tracking system. iRIScope cabinets are the world’s only endoscope cabinets with RFID technology, air drying and channel drying built in. RFID technology reduces unnecessary human touches by up to 75%, keeping scopes cleaner and safer. The cabinets also allow scopes to hang vertically with forced air running through the channels, drying endoscope channels in only 10 minutes, which complies with the multisociety guideline. This is lower than many current options available in the market which take as long as 45 minutes to perform the same task. This reduces the turnaround time for scope reprocessing, which can increase case volume and result in a big return on investment to the hospital.
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