New Research Shows Current Scope Cleaning Processes Not Rigorous Enough

A seven-month study recently published by the American Journal of Infection Control found that 60% of gastroscopes and colonoscopes examined tested positive for certain bacterial growth. These bacteria were detected even after being disinfected using the current manufacturer guidelines or additional measures. The scopes examined as part of the study were all manufactured by Olympus Corp., and all were relatively new at the beginning of the study.

The study raises additional concern over the ability of hospitals to adequately clean their endoscopes. This article by Chad Terhune at Kaiser Health News examines the study in further detail.

“”Physicians, other caregivers, hospitals and regulators should be paying keen attention to this issue, as patients have a right to assume that clean instruments are being used on them,” said Cori Ofstead, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist in St. Paul, Minn.

Since 2015, federal prosecutors, lawmakers and government regulators have been investigating a series of outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” across the country tied to scopes. Most of the scrutiny has been focused on a specific device known as a duodenoscope, which is used to inspect and treat problems in the gastrointestinal tract. It has been tied to at least 35 deaths in the past four years.

But this study and other outbreak reports suggest a broader problem affecting other types of scopes, which could put more patients at risk of dangerous infections nationwide. However, the bacteria this latest study found weren’t the drug-resistant superbugs that can be deadly for patients.”

Read the entire article here: Renewed Cleaning Efforts For Scopes Not Enough To Vanquish Bacteria

With more types of scopes being identified as possible sources of patient infection, hospitals must continue to improve upon their endoscope reprocessing efforts. As the study notes, “these findings bolster the need for routine visual inspection and cleaning verification tests recommended in new reprocessing guidelines”. Staff, processes and technology should all be examined as potential avenues to strengthen infection prevention efforts, with an aim at ensuring standardization and consistency across the hospital and/or health system.