Endoscope Channel Drying Is Essential for patient safety. Here’s why.

With frequent outbreaks of superbugs being linked to poorly disinfected endoscopes over the last decade, ensuring the cleanliness of endoscopes has been top of mind for many hospitals. While many hospitals have been cited for poor disinfection practices with their endoscopes, there has also been a rise in attention around the effective drying of endoscopes after reprocessing. We’ve noted that some of the most common problems identified during endoscope drying and storage include a lack of channel drying and not storing endoscopes in a vertical hanging position. Inadequate drying of endoscope channels can cause the replication and survival of remaining pathogens during endoscope storage. The presence of potentially contaminated biologics in endoscope channels may promote bacterial proliferation and biofilm formation and lead to severe superbug outbreaks. The combination of inadequate drying and storage procedures with sub-standard cleaning and disinfection is detrimental to endoscope contamination and post-endoscopic infection.

Several guiding bodies, from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to the Society for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) have put out guidance stating that endoscopes must be properly dried following high-level disinfection (HLD) before contact with the next patient. While the concept is simple and widely understood in theory, it is not always adhered to in practice. One of the major reasons is that many busy hospitals and Endoscopy centers do not allow enough time from when scopes are unloaded from Automated Endoscope Reprocessors (AERs) to their use in a procedure. In situations like these, not allowing a scope to properly dry internally and externally increases the potential for disease transmission. Additionally, not allowing scopes to hang vertically to allow any moisture to drain properly post-HLD can allow moisture to build up inside the scope.

There are systems on the market that can help staff adhere to basic drying procedures such as blowing filtered air through channels and having scopes hang vertically in storage. One such system is iRIScope, a channel-drying endoscope storage cabinet using RFID technology from Mobile Aspects, which was introduced in the last several years to guide healthcare providers through the proper, society-recommended HLD protocols every single time a scope is disinfected. iRIScope cabinets are the world’s only endoscope cabinets with RFID technology, air drying and channel drying built in. RFID capabilities reduce unnecessary human touches by up to 75%, keeping scopes cleaner and safer. The system also includes smart storage cabinets that allow scopes to hang vertically with forced air running through the channels, drying endoscope channels in only 10 minutes.

With iRIScope software for endoscope tracking, sterile technicians will be guided through the entire HLD process to make sure that any potentially harmful diseases are minimized via proper HLD techniques. Built-in technology will even alert your staff if improperly reprocessed scopes are hung in storage, or if it is time to re-disinfect a scope based on local protocols. With a second pair of eyes always on your scopes, you can ensure that patients are kept safe while simultaneously following society and Joint Commission guidelines.

Sign up for a demo of iRIScope today.