Flexible endoscopes are recognized as one of the most difficult medical devices to clean and decontaminate for safe patient reuse. More than 50 million flexible endoscopic procedures are performed each year. This medical device allows endoscopists to provide diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for the gastrointestinal tract using minimally invasive techniques that ensure the patients spend a minimal amount of time in the healthcare facility. The down side to these complex medical devices is the ability to ensure a scope is safe for use the next time it is needed.
The cleaning, decontamination, drying and storage of scopes is an arduous process that is repeated over and over during working hours by nurses and technicians. Even though the steps are repetitive the scopes are not all the same and meticulous attention to detail is required when following the manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU). Inconsistencies in reprocessing has been blamed for microbial exposures and transmissions while using flexible endoscopes for endoscopic procedures. Human error has been identified as the major contributing factor for lapses in endoscope reprocessing.
This program will focus on two of the critical touch points in endoscope reprocessing, drying and storage. The Society for Gastrointestinal Nurses and Associates (SGNA), The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) all suggest drying is as critical to the prevention of microbial growth as is cleaning or the removal of as much bioburden as possible before the scope is high level disinfected. We will discuss strategies for improving drying and storage of flexible scopes to reduce microbial growth and meet society guidelines for endoscope drying and storage.