Posted on April 6, 2017 by Cogentix Medical

Flexible Endoscope Reprocessing and the Cost of Compliance

Dishwasher showing clean dishHow hard can it be to clean something? You need soap, water, a disinfectant, sanitizing agent and presto: What was dirty is now clean and ready for its next use.

This is true in a restaurant setting, where it’s relatively easy to wash and clean dishes; after all, many fifteen-year-olds have done this as part of their first jobs! But it gets far more complicated in the world of medical devices, and few instruments are as difficult to properly clean, disinfect and/or sterilize as flexible endoscopes.

Updated Reprocessing Standards

Following a number of infections linked to contaminated endoscopes, organizations such ANSI/AAMIAORN and SGNA realized greater measures were needed in order to better protect patients. The result has been a series of revised and expanded standards for reprocessing flexible endoscopes. Taken together, there are 17 new and different recommendations for how to properly reprocess these instruments. Some of these, such as wearing clean gloves to handle reprocessed endoscopes, are simple. Others are more complicated. But with all these additional guidelines, there are now more than 100 steps for reprocessing a single endoscope. It is apparent that reprocessing flexible endoscopes in a way that keeps patients safe and prevents potentially dangerous infections is expensive and complicated.

The True Cost of Reprocessing Endoscopes

In order to provide you a clear look at the true cost of endoscopic reprocessing, consider these two facts taken from a recent study1:

  • Meeting these standards is time-consuming and reprocessing each endoscope takes approximately 76 minutes of hands-on staff time.
  • In terms of dollars spent, reprocessing a single endoscope, to be used one time, can cost anywhere from $114.07 to $280.71.

These numbers are eye-opening to say the least. Much of the difficulty is compounded by the fact that even if you have the financial resources and the trained staff available to reprocess the flexible endoscopes and adhere to the suggested guidelines, it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.

In fact, despite many advances, the danger of contamination from dirty medical equipment is huge. ECRI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping healthcare facilities manage patient risks, cites it as a top health concern for 2017.

A More Cost-effective Alternative

All of this has led countless practitioners to wonder if there is an easier and more cost-effective way to reprocess endoscopes.

There is.

PrimeSight™ with EndoSheath® provides a five-minute solution that is both cost effective and recognized by national organizations as a safe alternative to the 100 steps and 76 minutes of cleaning, disinfection and/or sterilization required by conventional reprocessing.

This might sound too good to be true, but true it is! The solution is surprisingly simple, and lies in the single-use EndoSheath Barrier used to cover a high performance, reusable endoscope, preventing the endoscope from ever coming in contact with the patient. This disposable barrier also contains the working lumen of the scope – one of the most difficult parts of an endoscope to remove bio-burden from. Once the procedure is complete, the barrier is simply removed and discarded. After a quick rinse and a routine wipe-down using some enzymatic cleaner and 70 percent ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, the scope is ready for another EndoSheath Barrier and another procedure.

Of course, in the medical profession, ensuring the patient’s safety takes priority over cost savings and simplicity. As a unique device, EndoSheath Barriers are included in the AAMI/ANSI guidelines as “sheaths that are intended to prevent endoscope soiling and thus serve as microbial barriers.” In addition, the EndoSheath also complies with the AUA/SUNA guidelines for scope reprocessing.

EndoSheath products are available for a variety of endoscopic procedures including bronchoscopy, cystoscopy, esophagoscopy, and laryngoscopy. When the EndoSheath is used in combination with PrimeSight cystoscopes, healthcare professionals and hospitals of all sizes have a way to mitigate the risk of contamination and increase productivity while providing patients effective care.

1. Ofstead, C.L., Quick, M.R., Eiland, J.E., Adams, S.J. (2017). A glimpse at the true cost of reprocessing endoscopes: Results of a pilot project. Communiqué, Jan/Feb, 63-78.

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