Celiac.com 03/30/2015 - Researchers are calling for an overhaul of cleaning and decontamination procedures in the face of a study showing that three out of 20 flexible gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopes (15%) pose an infection risk, because they are contaminated with unacceptable levels of human biological matter.

Photo: CC--SA 3.0The researchers are part of the 3M Infection Prevention Division, which recently conducted an assessment of endoscopes at five major hospitals.

For their study, the researchers analyzed 275 flexible duodenoscopes, gastroscopes, and colonoscopes and found that 30 percent, 24 percent, and 3 percent respectively harbored unacceptable levels of human biological matter.

The results surprised the team, as 15% constitutes an "unexpectedly high number of endoscopes failing a cleanliness criterion," says Marco Bommarito, PhD, lead investigator and lead research specialist, 3M Infection Prevention Division; adding that, ideally, no endoscopes would fail a cleanliness rating.

Because such endoscopes are used for routine screening, and are reused on different patients, sterilization is crucial to preventing infection.

The 3M team presented their findings in an abstract at the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2008 guidelines for cleaning endoscopes, contaminated endoscopes are linked to more healthcare-associated outbreaks than to any other medical device.

Even so, illnesses and reports of improperly cleaned endoscopes are on the rise at healthcare facilities across the country.

In the face of their findings, the researchers concluded that "cleaning protocols for flexible endoscopes need improvement, such as guidelines tailored to the type of scope or identifying if there is a critical step missing in the manual cleaning process, and documented quality control measures."


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