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Improving Safety and Efficiency: Endoscope Reprocessing

Outdated IFUs, inconsistent adherence to guidelines, precleaning complexities, insufficient training, all pose considerable risks to your endoscope reprocessing. Streamlining these processes and removing any errors in the command pipeline will help address safety and efficiency issues.

Balancing standardization with the nuances of your facility’s processes can be challenging. However, it’s a crucial step, as improper cleaning and reprocessing of endoscopes can lead to severe healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) that can endanger patients’ lives.

Ironing out procedural deviations, implementing carefully thought-out guidelines, and ensuring best practices are employed every time, are effective ways to mitigate such risks. Here is a proven method to ensure that you can consistently reprocess your scopes in the exact same manner every time.

Kick-off with systematization.

As a universal checklist for endoscope reprocessing remains a concept yet to be actualized, the burden lies on facility leaders to adhere to the most thorough guidelines both from verified regulations and equipment manufacturers, thereby minimizing discrepancies.

For instance, the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association assists healthcare systems striving towards standardizing endoscope reprocessing. They emphasize the importance of understanding that standardized procedures must account for variables like equipment model specific reprocessing IFU’s, staff competencies, and leadership dynamics at different facilities. Tightening up loose ends in your inventory, optimizing organizational levels, and successfully operating a color-coded process guide can help improve efficiency and prevent usage errors.

Similarly, ongoing education efforts and aligning staff based on their experience levels with appropriate training modules helps ensure competency at all reprocessing touchpoints. Proven recommendations from reputed organizations such as WHO, CDC, and specialized societies like the SGNA, ASGE or ESGE can provide clarity and precision in this complex procedure.

Address chain-of-command issues.

The process of striving for standardization often necessitates identifying any interruptions or hiccups in the command chain. This information is critical to recognize where, how, and why errors might originate, which is the crucial first step towards creating a more streamlined and efficient system.

Following this, it is essential to impose stringent protocols to minimize, if not entirely eliminate, repeated discrepancies or mistakes. These protocols serve as safeguarding mechanisms that ensure uniformity, quality, and consistency in carrying out various internal processes. They act as a preventive measure against unwarranted deviations, pinpoint errors in repeated cycles, and provide a clear process to rectify them, thus instilling discipline, compliance, and precision in the workflow.

Furthermore, fostering an atmosphere of openness, cooperation, and transparent communication among the reprocessing team plays a vital role in maintaining standardization. Encouraging the members to exchange ideas, listen to each other, and be responsive to feedback, can lead to collective problem-solving and continuous process enhancement. It not only brings diversity of thought to the table but also builds trust and camaraderie among the team members.

It is also beneficial to inspire members of the SPD to voice their concerns or suggestions for process improvement. This encouragement empowers them to contribute to the improvement initiatives, thereby promoting a more dynamic, effective, and accountable work environment. By encouraging members to contribute their ideas and concerns, the organization can tap into a wealth of potential improvements and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Routine Assessment.

Endoscope reprocessing protocols require regular reassessment and adjustment to meet new information and technical advancements, as well as feedback from staff and experts. It is crucial to stay informed about industry advancements, including recent discoveries and advice, to keep your protocol up to date.

The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association highlights that the lack of continuous command isn’t unique to reprocessing endoscopes; it generally occurs because leaders typically operate in a state of emergency, responding to issues as they arise.

Understanding what’s going wrong and why is key to addressing the issues, improving procedures, and advancing patient safety.

The association quickly established that even though manufacturers and test laboratories had been validating IFUs, the conditions and terminology were inconsistent and confusing compared to the rapidly evolving clinical environment.

Introduced two years ago, manufacturers now must comply with TIR12 which recommends standardization and reduces discrepancies in IFUs.

AAMI suggests that this Technical Information Report can assist healthcare professionals in identifying pertinent questions to ask when buying a product or establishing a process protocol.

Insufficient Training and Lack of Certification.

Proficiency in reprocessing endoscopes is crucial, requiring appropriate training and ongoing education for personnel. Therefore, a comprehensive training curriculum that includes cleaning, disinfection, sterilization techniques, and other related topics is essential. Training in endoscopes reprocessing has always been problematic due it’s complex, ever evolving updates.

The terms “training” and “education” are vague, and could imply in-house training, sending employees to industry conferences, or buying required learning materials. It can be beneficial to provide certification to technicians, ensuring thorough understanding amongst staff. Beyond this, it is essential when acquiring or transitioning to reprocessing software like NewCura’s, that your team is thoroughly trained. NewCura prioritizes this, providing comprehensive instruction on the best practices and procedures associated with their new software.

The safety of patients is the key justification for stringent reprocessing protocols, insisting the staff strictly adhere to procedures.

Risk to Reputation.

Flexible endoscopes that are not properly cleaned and disinfected can become carriers of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and prions that are utilized in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Such neglect not only poses a significant health threat but can also severely damage the reputation of a healthcare facility.

By diligently implementing standardized endoscope reprocessing protocols, healthcare centers can drastically decrease the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The most immediate beneficiaries of this rigorous standardization are, undoubtedly, the patients.

Beyond patient safety, considered paramount in healthcare, there is also a compelling business case for following these protocols. In an era where patient satisfaction significantly impacts hospital ratings, any instances of HAIs linked to improper reprocessing can invite damaging publicity, eroding trust and potentially resulting in loss of business. Indeed, maintaining facility reputations requires diligent adherence to the appropriate safety procedures.

Staying abreast of the most recent developments, guidelines, and IFUs and providing effective training for your SPD technicians on the right procedures is not optional. It’s an integral part of enhancing patient safety and safeguarding the reputation of your health institution.

Enhancement Through Technological Innovation.

There are many new technological options available recently that can boost safety and consistency in endoscope reprocessing.  NewCura has introduced ScopeCycle® a revolutionary new software for the tracking and reprocessing of scopes throughout its clinical procedural cycle. ScopeCycle® standardizes the steps of scope reprocessing, provides automated reports on reprocessing, and is customizable to any workflow. The end-to-end device tracking solution can minimize and eliminate most errors and decrease patient risk.


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