The 3 Most Exciting Advances in Endoscope Reprocessing
1. Automation. In the past, endoscope reprocessing was a multi-step, and at times complex, process subject to human error. But, the emergence of automated endoscope reprocessors has radically changed the market. "The entire industry is migrating towards an automated process," says Mr. Ashraf. "By doing so, we reduce the risk of cross contamination, improve scope turnaround and eliminate human error."
2. Safety. Automatic endoscope reprocessers are designed for patient safety, but new advances in the field have further polished this aim. For example, Olympus launched Acecide-C, a new peracetic acid for endoscope disinfection. "It is safer and more effective than the previous generation of chemicals," says Mr. Ashraf. Previous generations required heat activation, but the new peracetic acid can be used at room temperature, eliminating the level of risk associated with all heated chemicals.
The chemical and its compatible AER also allow staff to load the chemical without risking any exposure. Rather than opening a container and mixing a chemical by hand, staff simply loads a chemical cartridge into the machine. From there, the reprocessor punctures a hole in the cartridge and bathes the scopes in the disinfectant – limiting staff exposure to the chemical.
Peracetic acid is water soluble. It safely breaks down into water, vinegar and oxygen after use, allowing the reprocessor's drain function to safely dispose of it. Unlike previous generations, Acecide-C only requires seven minutes of exposure time. It allows for a more efficient process without sacrificing safety.
3. Leak testing. While strides have been made in automation, the leak testing process has remained remarkably stagnant. Traditional wet leak testing involves submerging the endoscopes in water, angulating the distal tip and observing the water for air bubbles to rise to the surface. Visual inspection for air bubbles is highly subjective. Variability between technicians and the chance of air bubbles invisible to the naked eye are likely.
Wet leak testing can leave endoscopes vulnerable to fluid invasion, which leads to costly repairs, and human error. In addition to possible repair costs, incorrectly tested scopes can increase the likelihood of improper reprocessing. "Utilization of a dry automated leak tester can help avoid these situations, which can be related to human error during wet submersion leak testing," says Ms. Drosnock. "Companies have introduced dry leak testers in the market place to streamline the process, increase accuracy of leak testing and reduce risk of human error."
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