A study published in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (4/16) examined medical scopes at 21 Providence Health and Services hospitals across four states to determine how clean the devices were after following manufacturer’s directions for cleaning. Unclean medical scopes have been linked to life-threatening and fatal medical events across the United States in recent years, prompting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning about the devices.
“Recent high profile MDRO (multidrug-resistant organisms) outbreaks associated with DLE have presented endoscopists with an inconvenient truth: despite strict adherence to published guidelines bacteria may on occasion survive within our instruments,” researchers wrote.
To complete the study, staff at participating medical centers cleaned duodenoscopes and linear echoendoscopes according to manufacturers’ guidelines and then cultured the devices to see if they still contained bacteria. No humans were exposed to the devices under examination.
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Despite that, outbreaks and deaths have been linked to improperly disinfected scopes, although how closely they are linked is still under question. Between 2012 and 2015, 18 patients died and another 20 suffered health problems linked to scopes, although whether the deaths were directly linked to the infections is not known.
Lawsuits have been filed against the makers of some of the medical scopes, alleging patients were put at risk of serious, potentially fatal health problems as a result of endoscopes that could not be properly cleaned as directed.