Jun 18, 2020 | Sterile Processing Best Practice

The Benefits of Automatic Endoscope Cleaning

Endoscopes aren’t going anywhere. However, while they provide immense value to medical teams in effectively diagnosing certain disorders and diseases, they can also pose a threat to the patient—especially if they are manually disinfected. By switching to automatic endoscope cleaning, you can reduce that risk and increase patient safety. There are many benefits of switching to an automatic endoscope reprocessor (AER) for high-level disinfection. Today, we’re going to focus on the two most important ones: reducing human error and increasing patient safety.

Reduce Human Error

In some cases, human intervention can catch issues that machines miss, but this is not one of them. An automatic endoscope reprocessor removes the guesswork that comes when you choose manual soaks over automated high-level disinfection. During a manual process, the scope must be completely submerged for the appropriate amount of time, loosely coiled to prevent damage and the disinfectant must be manually injected into all the scope ports. An AER allows for proper placement and ensures adequate contact and exposure with the disinfectant provided the instructions for use are followed. Additionally, automatic endoscope reprocessor lowers the risk of damaging endoscopes. Endoscopes are fragile and can be easily harmed if technicians mishandle them during a manual soak. A damaged endoscope that is put back into the rotation can negatively impact patient safety, while also hurting your facility’s budget by requiring expensive repairs and replacements.

Increase Patient Safety

Providing the highest level of patient safety should always be the top priority in everything that you do. Replacing your manual soaking process with an automatic process is an easy way to support patient safety. Manual reprocessing cannot guarantee proper sterilization, and it carries an increased risk of cross-contamination, according to Infection Control Today. An endoscope that isn’t properly cleaned and disinfected can retain and transmit the infection from one patient to the next. Per AAMI ST 91, 2015 using an AER is not met to replace the point of use cleaning and the manual cleaning of the scope prior to high level disinfecting or sterilizing. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use for the processing of flexible endoscopes. If there is a discrepancy between the instructions for use of the AER and the flexible endoscope, a decision should be made based on the information obtained from both manufacturers. Flexible endoscopes must always be handled with care throughout all the processing steps.

Automatic Endoscope Cleaning at Your Facility?

At the end of the day, the benefits of automatic endoscope cleaning far outweighs the risks you take when you go with a manual disinfection process. Making the switch might seem like a big jump, but the payoff of doing so will provide far greater benefits in the long term. Contact us to learn more!