Providers trying out disposable scopes in wake of superbug outbreaks

Throughout the nation, news has surfaced about superbug outbreaks at numerous facilities, leading some providers and hospitals to try out disposable scopes, according to Kaiser Health News.

Here are five things to know:

1. Recently, U.S. regulators have approved two new colonoscopes that are designed for providers to use once and then throw away. Such disposable scopes are priced at $250 or less, as opposed to conventional scopes that generally run for $40,000.

2. Smaller companies are the primary manufacturers of such disposable scopes, seeking to give them an edge over larger device manufacturers. However, other large companies also see the opportunities disposables hold. Marlborough, Mass.-based Boston Scientific has sold a single-use bronchoscope in the United States for nearly $300 for the past few years.

3. From 2010 to 2015, the FDA reported contaminated gastrointestinal scopes may have been exposed to or infected nearly 350 patients at 41 medical facilities. Since 2013, at least 35 patients have died after contracting infections linked to contaminated scopes. Chris Lavanchy, engineering director at the ECRI Institute, told KHN, "If you can tell patients we have a disposable device so there's really no chance of infection — that has to be very appealing. This could allay public fears."

4. However, many providers have concerns over disposable scopes as to whether they can produce high-quality images and effectively treat patients.

5. Throughout the United States, hospitals have tried out various safety measures to limit chances of scope-related infections. Some facilities tested scopes for contamination following sterilization and then quarantined them for 48 hours to see if bacteria grew. However, this lengthy process cost some facilities $75 or more to clean a scope each time.

More articles on gastroenterology and endoscopy:
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Tyme Technologies, Mayo Clinic to launch pancreatic research program: 4 things to know
ASGE recognizes 18 new endoscopy centers for quality and safety, renews 18 others

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