The ECRI Institute has just published a report on the top 10 health technology hazards of 2018. The failure to consistently and effectively reprocess flexible endoscopes was ranked the second biggest threat to health-care delivery and patient health.
This ranking reflects the increasing awareness and recognition of the risks of endoscopy-associated pathogen transmission. Another contemporary study found 32 outbreaks involving almost 400 patients were reported between 2002 and 2007.
Indeed, a recent study of reprocessing, drying, and storage procedures for endoscopes used for gastrointestinal or non-gastrointestinal purposes at three hospitals in the USA found microbial growth after reprocessing on nearly 75% of endoscopes. Residual fluid was found inside almost 50% of the endoscopes examined, which is associated with higher ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) levels, an indicator of microbial growth. Reprocessing and drying practices were noted to be deficient at 2 of the 3 centres studied.
Adherence to guidelines such as those recently issued by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for reprocessing endoscopes are vital. In fact, a recent article in The Lancet advocates improved training and enhanced checks on the effectiveness of reprocessing procedures, in order to reduce human error and non-compliance.
This is where the UWI Visual Timer can help ensure ongoing patient safety. Using the colours green and red the timer helps staff to see at a glance if the endoscope is still safe to use or needs to be reprocessed. More information is available on the UWI Technology website.