If your sterile processing department processes high-level disinfected (HLD) items such as scopes and probes, you know how important it is to carry out every step correctly. Flexible endoscopes are notoriously hard to clean, disinfect, and sterilize—and if scopes are not reprocessed correctly, patients are at risk of exposure to bodily fluids and other bio matter that could cause infection.
Patient safety, trust from medical staff, and facility reputation all depend on the SPD consistently and accurately reprocessing scopes and other HLD items —and keeping those items ready for reuse. If your facility is only tracking these processes manually, you may be leaving the door open to inefficiency and inconsistency at best—or cross-contamination and patient infection, at worst.
The good news: Digital endoscope management systems offer efficient ways to support effective processing and track crucial data. As a bonus, they could help your facility save much-needed funds.
Here’s why your facility should use an automated endoscope management system:
1. Reprocessing Accuracy
Manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFUs) could fill their own Library of Congress. Their length alone makes them unwieldy for SPDs, which need to reprocess equipment efficiently. Because of this, most facilities write their own processing instructions based on IFUs. Those concise instructions can often be found in a binder or posted on the SPD wall.
For technicians, these formats are a step up from lengthy IFUs, but processing steps can still be easily overlooked. Not so with an endoscope management system where you decide what processing steps you need documented.
Electronic systems like Censis’s ScopeTrac keep records for each individual scope/HLD item with the proper processing steps built into the system. Using the computerized tool, technicians check off required processing steps before going on to the next one, reducing the likelihood of missing a step while also improving process efficiency.
2. Track Scope Needs, Expirations
If your hospital has a slew of procedures scheduled that require scopes, your SPD needs to know exactly what’s needed and when. Paper systems and siloed electronic systems require human labor to make sure that procedures’ needs are communicated to the SPD accurately and prioritized properly—but an endoscope management system can cut out the (literal) middleman.
For example, ScopeTrac Advanced interfaces directly with your facility’s electronic medical record (EMR). It receives notifications of scheduled procedures and scope needs, which makes it easier for your technicians to prioritize reprocessing needs.
The system also tracks the shelf life/hang time of processed scopes. If a scope is expiring or expired technicians will be notified electronically. No more having to do daily rounds checking scope tags to see when a scope expires.
3. Collect Data with Reduced Risk of Human Error
You can run a scope through all of the proper processes, but if disinfecting solutions are diluted beyond efficacy or the temperature of an automatic endoscope reprocessor (AER) isn’t hot enough, those efforts may be made ineffective. AERs track a lot of this data themselves, but SPD technicians must often manually transfer that information to the facility’s paper processing documentation.
Advanced endoscope management systems, such as ScopeTrac Advanced, electronically collect AER data, interfacing directly with the machines, and tying the data to the appropriate scope. In addition to saving technicians time and reducing human error, this also provides a wealth of data that comes in handy if a particular scope ever needs to be tracked in connection to patient infection.
4. Save Money
It’s true that endoscope management systems come at a cost—but with improved SPD efficiency saving staff time and greater accuracy throughout scope reprocessing, the costs saved quickly stack up.
Keep this in mind: Improved reprocessing accuracy means there’s less chance of patient infection due to improperly processed scopes/HLD items. That alone leads to a host of savings, including the length of a hospital stay, legal fees should a lawsuit occur, and more. Consider these figures from a presentation by Barbara Zuccala at New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy:
- Notifying patients of a potential contamination incident: $70–80 per patient
- Lab testing of possibly infected patients: ~$700 per patient
- Investigation of the incident: $25,000–75,000
- Legal defense costs: $220,000–850,000
- Settlement or verdict costs: $250,000–16 million
- Loss of volume and market share: $1–2 million
All of this amounts to anywhere from $2 million to $20 million in estimated savings for every reprocessing breach you avoid with the help of an endoscope management system. And, of course, there’s the unquantifiable value that comes with supporting patient health and maintaining trust both within and outside of your facility.
ScopeTrac Advanced: The Endoscope Management System Your Facility Needs Now
The latest offering from Censis Technologies, ScopeTrac Advanced builds on existing ScopeTrac functionality to provide all of the benefits listed above. From reprocessing tracking and data collection to inventory management, ScopeTrac Advanced helps SPDs efficiently and accurately reprocess scopes and HLD items. The program offers hands-free navigation and direct interfacing with AERs and EMRs for seamless management of the full lifecycle of scopes.