Endoscope Reprocessing Again Near the Top of Health Technology Hazards List for 2017

A leading organization again named Endoscope Reprocessing one of its top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2017. For several years now, ECRI Institute has listed Endoscope Reprocessing near the top of its annual list of health technology hazards. ECRI (www.ecri.org), a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care.

For years we at Mobile Aspects have known about the high risks associated with improper reprocessing of flexible endoscopes. There has been increased scrutiny of outbreaks associated with improperly re-processed endoscopes in the US over the last several years, and ECRI’s placement of this risk as its #2 health technology hazard brings to light how acute of an issue this is.

As ECRI explains:

“Outbreaks associated with the use of contaminated duodenoscopes—such as those that caused headlines in recent years—illustrate the severity of this issue. But duodenoscopes are not the only devices that warrant attention. ECRI Institute has received reports involving a variety of contaminated medical instruments that have been used, or almost used, on patients.

Complex, reusable instruments—such as endoscopes, cannulated drills, and arthroscopic shavers—are of particular concern. They can be difficult to clean and then disinfect or sterilize (i.e., reprocess) between uses, and the presence of any lingering contamination on, or in, the instrument can be difficult to detect.

Often, we find that inattention to the cleaning steps within the reprocessing protocol is a contributing factor. Healthcare facilities should verify that comprehensive reprocessing instructions are available to staff and that all steps are consistently followed, including pre-cleaning of the device at the point of use.”

An executive brief of the entire report can be downloaded here: Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2017

Hospitals must step up their efforts to ensure that flexible endoscopes are being properly re-processed by their staff, and staff must be held accountable for any mis-steps along the way. Proper documentation surrounding re-processing of all medical instruments, including flexible endoscopes, must be maintained.