Archive April 2016 XVII, No. 4

A Day in the Life of an Endoscope

Your scopes are flexible. Your reprocessing standards shouldn't be.

David Bernard, Senior Associate Editor


properly reprocess a scope IT TAKES TIME Let your surgeons and OR staff know how long it takes to properly reprocess a scope.

There's no room for cutting corners when you're reprocessing flexible GI endoscopes. Here's what a day in the life of your endoscopes should look like.

Step 1: Pre-cleaning
Starting at the point of use, your first priority in the scope turnaround process is to pre-clean the instrument as soon as possible after a case has concluded. Tableside pre-cleaning gives your reprocessing team a head start on this front. The scope's exterior surfaces should be rinsed and sponged down. Its channels should be flushed with an enzymatic detergent solution as an initial precaution against gross debris that might remain inside. And the job should be done, and done consistently, by your OR staff.

This may seem burdensome to time-crunched nurses and techs, notes Karen Swanson, LPN, CSPM, CFER, sterile processing manager at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Conn., and chair of the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). 'There's a lot of equipment to clean and disinfect. They know the room must be turned over quickly. In a hurry, people may not be pre-cleaning at bedside,' she says.

But sending untreated scopes to reprocessing is a prescription for damage and danger, especially since they might not get immediate attention once they arrive there. A lack of pre-cleaning will surely complicate the rest of the process.

'It's like leaving dirty dishes in the sink. If you let them go too long, they dry out and it's difficult to get the soil off,' says Chris Lavanchy, engineering director of the health devices group at the ECRI Institute in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Inadequate endoscope reprocessing topped the non-profit research firm's annual list of health technology hazards this year. 'Material that dries on scopes will be nearly impossible to remove, especially in lumens. It's difficult to get into those and brush those off.'

Once pre-cleaning is completed, coil the instruments into a container to prevent their contact with anything else while they're transported to SPD.

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