Archive February 2018 XIX, No. 2

10 Tips for Effective Endoscope Reprocessing

Check out this expert advice to strengthen your flexible endoscope cleaning and disinfection practices.

Weston "Hank" Balch

Weston "Hank" Balch, CRCST, CIS, CHL


EndoScope Cleaning
CROSS-CONTAMINATION Always use new disposable brushes, sponges and other one-time use consumables to clean endoscopes.

Even with all the attention given to endoscope reprocessing in recent years and the increased scrutiny given by accreditation surveyors, many sterile processing departments still struggle with applying the mountain of regulatory direction to everyday best practices. Still, a number of reprocessing teams are making great strides in this area. Here are 10 tips for endoscope reprocessing excellence I gathered from experts across the country who are leading from the trenches.

1 Segregate your scopes. Work with your team to nail down a process that avoids co-mingling of scopes with other scopes of any kind, says Jenny Crnkovich, assistant director and educator in the department of sterile processing at NorthShore University Health System in Chicago, Ill. Every time a reusable medical device is received in decontam or the dirty room, what it's been exposed to is unknown. When items are segregated, the process allows for a low occurrence of improper cleaning and reduces overall risk to reprocessing staff. Segregation also assists in the bi-directional tracking of the device, a key step all facilities should perform.

2 Use new disposables to clean every scope. Using fresh, single-use chemistries, disposable brushes, sponges and other one-time use consumables to clean a scope reduces the risk of cross-contamination and is often required by reprocessing instructions for use, says Ms. Crnkovich. Reusing contaminated cleaning agents is poor practice and puts patients and staff at risk — especially if there is an exposure.


3 Keep quality records. A key element of maintaining properly cared for scopes and having them safe for use on patients is keeping excellent quality monitoring records, says Ms. Crnkovich. Specific and special attention to detail is a key element in following the guidelines for reprocessing and proper hang time. Each person in the department should receive training and be competent in endoscope reprocessing. This should happen on an annual basis with records to match paperwork/e-files. If your process gets updated, be sure to have an addendum to your competencies and a sign off sheet by all staff, including the date. The following year those updates would be included in your competencies.

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