The Joint Commission (TJC), the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and several other regulatory and accreditation agencies have recently put more focus on flexible endoscopes in their guidance to US hospitals and surgery centers. It comes as no surprise, as over the last decade the number of reported outbreaks based on inadequately reprocessed scopes has increased significantly.
To increase their vigilance, many hospitals and surgery centers are evaluating technologies that can help them track their scopes and automate the documentation of key steps along their usage lifecycle. This is being done especially with TJC and other accreditation bureaus in mind, as they have cracked down on lax scope documentation practices in recent years. With several solutions on the market that bring different features to the table, we’ll focus on one particular solution that is unique in its modular design – allowing hospitals to tailor their scope tracking and storage solution to their needs.
There are two primary components of an endoscope documentation system. The first will capture all of the scope transactions that take place at the clean storage area of the scopes. The second will capture the various steps during the high-level disinfection (HLD) process that each hospital would like to track. Combined, these two components give a full picture of the entire endoscope usage lifecycle to ensure high standards of reprocessing compliance, staff accountability and patient safety.
While some smaller hospitals and surgery centers require only limited tracking functionality, other larger hospitals and health systems require a lot more functionality due the complexity of their operations. iRIScope, from Mobile Aspects, approaches the challenge of automating endoscope tracking with a modular system. This modularity allows hospitals and surgery centers to tailor a system that fits their initial requirements, and to also have a system that grows with them as their needs and requirements change.
Smaller hospitals or surgery centers may only desire a scope tracking solution with basic functionality such as tracking scopes to patients and ensuring all scopes go through a standard reprocessing cycle each time. Having this data will be key for when TJC or other inspectors audit the endoscopy practices. With this data in electronic, easily-accessible format, hospitals can provide data in real-time as auditors go through their tracing methodology. iRIScope gathers this data by placing data capturing kiosks at key points along the endoscope usage lifecycle, such as at clean storage and reprocessing areas. Providing a turnkey solution such as this can be a cost-effective way to prepare for electronic data requirements in endoscopy.
A busier environment, such as an academic medical center or a large free-standing endoscopy center, may have different requirements due to the number of scopes under management and round-the-clock operations. With many more scopes to manage and many more employees accessing scopes after hours (when supervision is minimal), centers like these may need more security around their scopes to protect from mismanagement, theft or other unnecessary usage or contact. To solve this unique requirement, iRIScope has optional RFID-enabled scope storage cabinets that can keep an extra eye on scopes in busy centers by automatically associating staff and patients to each endoscope taken. Real-time alerts built into iRIScope also help to prevent scopes from being misplaced or lost during long trips between floors or buildings.
Depending on their infection control requirements, some endoscopy operations may want to enable additional safety features within iRIScope. For example, some centers may want to track their reprocessing protocols beginning in the procedure room by using additional kiosks to capture the time stamp of when the bedside cleaning begins. In situations such as these, iRIScope can be enabled to track this step and any other specific steps during reprocessing that the department considers critical. Some centers may also want to follow high-level disinfection with forced air through endoscope channels as recommended by many agencies. iRIScope allows this module to be added to any or all smart cabinets installed in the department, depending on their specific requirements.
As hospitals and health systems grow, and as endoscope reprocessing and handling standards change, endoscopy managers need a system that will grow with them. With the modular design of iRIScope, endoscopes can now be managed in a way that matches existing workflows and protocols, and can grow and adapt to changing requirements as time passes. This makes sure that any investment in the iRIScope tracking system will be a secure and sound decision.