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Reprocessing endoscopes, particularly flexible endoscopes, requires numerous steps for proper cleaning and high-level disinfection. Studies have demonstrated that not all of these steps are followed by sterile processing personnel, leading to potential transmission of infectious organisms to patients during invasive procedures using contaminated scopes.
This report summarizes some of the more significant issues relating to endoscope cleaning and disinfection and how studies indicate that not all steps in the decontamination process are being followed. Insufficient reprocessing leaves bioburden that can pose serious threats to patient safety by transmitting infectious pathogens.
Current techniques used to clean endoscopes for reuse are still not consistently effective, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control whose findings support the need for careful visual inspection and cleaning verification tests to ensure that all endoscopes are free of damage and debris before they are high-level disinfected or sterilized and used on another patient.