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Archive October 2019 XX, No. 10

Take Better Care of Your Endoscopes

These tools and tests enhance reprocessing practices and reduce cross-contamination risks.

Alison Sonstelie

Alison Sonstelie, BS, CHL, CRCST


INSIDE LOOK Borescopes let staff check a scope's channels for defects and debris that jeopardize safe patient care.

Healthcare facilities continue to face challenges in performing safe and effective endoscope reprocessing. Is it any wonder? The complex design of endoscopes makes the devices difficult to clean, reprocessing techs must follow complicated and lengthy reprocessing directions while working in tight spaces with inadequate equipment and feel rushed or lack confidence to complete all of the reprocessing steps.

National organizations recommend visual inspection and cleaning verification of endoscopes after manual cleaning and before high-level disinfection or sterilization. Inspection and verification usually rely on your reprocessing techs abilities to identify defects and interpret spot-test results, which can sometimes lead to human error. The human factors of cleaning endoscopes get a boost by using the following technologies during routine reprocessing.

1. Borescopes

The channels of a scope, especially the biopsy/suction channel, can be damaged by the graspers or snares that are passed through during procedures. These defects can become traps for debris and cannot be seen with the naked eye. The dilemma of not being able to see inside the channel of a device that was made for visualizing channels within the human body is rather ironic.

Borescopes, a relatively new visual inspection technology in device reprocessing, can be used to identify damage or debris along the inside of an endoscope's channels. A borescope is basically a flexible scope used to see inside a flexible scope. There are a few different models on the market today, with varying lengths, image quality and price points. They're not outrageously expensive ($1,000 to $3,000), so purchasing one for your department should not be a barrier to performing this work.

You can run into trouble if your reprocessing team is not trained or educated to use a borescope and interpret what they're seeing. You should work with the borescope manufacturer to provide an in-service and training materials. Instructions and visual aids should be posted and available where the inspection takes place. If this is a new process for your department, ask your endoscope manufacturer to secure loaner equipment or expedite repairs. When implementing new testing or verification programs, it's common to discover problems with a high percentage of the fleet of devices.

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