July 14, 2016 — A study has confirmed that a small percentage of medical endoscopes remain contaminated even when hospitals strictly follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
The study was published in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy in March 2016. The conclusions were based on data from 21 hospitals in four states that tested echoendoscopes every day for a month.
Out of approximately 4,000 specimens, 5% of the scopes had microbial contamination after being disinfected, and 0.6% harbored bacteria that could cause an infection.
The study shows just how hard it is to clean echoendoscopes. However, no infections were detected and no patients were harmed during the study, according to the Seattle Times.
Echoendoscopes are very similar to duodenoscopes. The FDA has issued warnings and is currently investigating the risk. There have been several outbreaks of CRE, an antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” though the chances are extremely low.
In the meantime, scope-makers are facing a growing number of lawsuits from people who developed infections. The lawsuits allege that patients were put at risk of life-threatening health problems because the scopes could not be cleaned according to instructions.