Small corners of the medical field often serve as a perfect stage to discuss larger issues that are being broadly discussed and researched in a number of medical fields. That has certainly been the case for endoscope reprocessing.
While endoscopes are widely used to help diagnose various conditions, and the proper way to reprocess medical instruments is a topic that occupies virtually everyone in the medical world, taken together, endoscope reprocessing might seem like a narrow field.
On the contrary, in 2017, several important discussions on the topic arose to shed light on many important issues in the medical world, from the rise of superbugs to human error in reprocessing and safer ways to avoid cross-contamination.
Here is a review of three of the most pertinent topics that were widely discussed last year and which will likely continue to be part of a wider conversation in 2018.
Superbugs and Endoscopy
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, commonly called superbugs, have been a major concern for public health officials and medical personnel for some time. It’s estimated that each year 700,000 people die from infections linked to these superbugs. If solutions aren’t found, this number may rise to as many as 10 million deaths by 2050.
Some of the most notable breakouts of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been linked to the use of endoscopes. In reviewing an outbreak at UCLA that resulted in two patients dying, it was found that the endoscopes were properly reprocessed, yet the bacteria were still passed on. What this points to is the fact that even when the reprocessing protocol is properly followed, there is a very real risk that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be passed from patient to patient. And because they can withstand antibiotics, adding more steps to the reprocessing procedure may not be sufficient to protect patients from cross-contamination.
However, the use of a single-use EndoSheath® Protective Barrier with a PrimeSight Endoscope is a practical and highly effective way to mitigate the risk of these infections in Bronchoscopy, Cystoscopy, Esophagoscopy and Laryngoscopy. Read more about superbugs and endoscopy.
The Impact of Human Error in Endoscopy Reprocessing Failures
It’s an ironic fact of the medical world that while patients go to the hospital or their doctor’s office for treatment, these places often expose patients to new kinds of infections and illnesses. Medical professionals on all levels are constantly faced with the dilemma of dealing with the risk of cross-contamination when in a hospital. This has resulted in life-saving processes that determine how instruments and equipment should be properly reprocessed and sterilized.
However, human error in reprocessing plays a major role in the risk of infection. In fact, inadequate endoscope reprocessing remains a top healthcare issue as reported by the ECRI Institute. Some studies have shown the personnel who reprocess endoscopes only completed the 12 listed steps 1.4 percent of the time! What this points to is not that we need more complicated reprocessing procedures, but that single-use microbial barriers are more practical and effective means to protect against cross-contamination. Learn more about the impact of human error.
Recent Research Validates the Value of EndoSheath
Superbugs, reprocessing issues and a host of other topics continue to be major talking points in the medical world, and will be for some time. While we may be a long way off from eradicating superbugs, and cross-contamination remains a pressing issue, study after study has shown that the EndoSheath® Protective Barrier is a safe, proven and cost-effective option to protect patients undergoing endoscopic procedures.
We’ve mentioned how EndoSheath® Protective Barrier can potentially help protect against the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It can also prevent microbes from colonizing on cystoscopes, which significantly reduces the chances that patients will develop a urinary tract infection post-cystoscopy.
Another study highlighted how using the EndoSheath® Protective Barrier drastically reduced the reprocessing time between procedures, sometimes by as much as a whole hour. Reducing the time and labor involved with reprocessing saves valuable resources, which can have a potentially significant, positive impact on a practice’s finances. Read more about recent research on the EndoSheath protective barrier.
Keep Up With Top Topics in Endoscope Reprocessing
This year will bring with it a new host of topics, many of which will no doubt reference the issues discussed in this blog. To learn more about the use of microbial barriers in endoscopy, be sure to check out the Path to Sterile Endoscopy webinar series, which focuses on the current state of reprocessing and how EndoSheath can help with infection prevention efforts.