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Current Cleaning Protocols Not Enough for Endoscopes

Microbes still adhering to endoscopes, even after multi-step disinfection protocols followed

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Despite adherence to current U.S. reprocessing guidelines, microbes and biologic debris persist on endoscopes, according to research published in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Cori Ofstead, M.S.P.H., of Ofstead & Associates in St. Paul, Minn., and colleagues examined 15 colonoscopes and gastroscopes used in gastrointestinal procedures after they underwent each step of recommended cleaning guidelines. Those steps included: bedside cleaning; manual cleaning in dedicated reprocessing rooms; and automated cleaning with a high-level disinfectant. The scopes were stored vertically after drying with isopropyl alcohol and forced air. If contamination levels exceeded pre-determined targets for each cleaning step, the cleaning procedure was repeated and the scope retested.

Surviving microbes were found on 92 percent of the devices after bedside cleaning, 46 percent after manual cleaning, 64 percent after high-level disinfection, and 9 percent after overnight storage, the researchers found. Residual contamination above target levels was found on 100 percent of the devices after bedside cleaning, 92 percent after manual cleaning, 73 percent after high-level disinfection, and 82 percent after overnight storage.

The researchers do hold out hope that other methods might get hospitals closer to complete disinfection, however. “More research is needed to identify processes that can ensure all flexible endoscopes are free of residual contamination and viable microbes prior to patient use,” the authors said in a news release from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. “Results from this study suggest that current standards and practices may not be sufficient for detecting and removing residual contamination.”

3M provided funding and materials for the study.

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