A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control claims the existing scope reprocessing techniques are insufficient for flexible endoscopes.
Researchers conducted visual inspections with a borescope, microbial cultures and biochemical tests examining proteins and adenosine triphosphates to identify endoscopes in need of cleaning or maintenance over a seven-month period.
They compared the experimental group to a control group consisting of endoscopes reprocessed with customary practices. They examined 20 scopes in total.
Here's what they found.
1. All endoscopes had visible irregularities.
2. Ninety-five percent of scopes had fluid discoloration and debris in channels.
3. Twelve of the endoscopes had microbial growth. Of the 12, four didn't show that growth until after 48 hours.
4. There were no differences in culture results by study group, assessment period or endoscope type.
The authors concluded "More rigorous reprocessing was not consistently effective. Seven-day incubation allowed identification of slow-growing microbes. These findings bolster the need for routine visual inspection and cleaning verification tests recommended in new reprocessing guidelines."