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Hybrid & Single Use Endoscopes

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Endoscopes are one of the most challenging pieces of equipment to reprocess. Cross-contamination from patient to patient occurrences has been in the news for years. In 2017, "72 percent of surveyed hospitals and critical access hospitals were found to be noncompliant with The Joint Commission's high-level disinfection and sterilization standard IC.02.02.01". In 2020 failure to meet the Joint Commission's high-level disinfection and sterilization standard IC.02.02.01 was listed as a "top 5 most challenging requirement".

Endoscope reprocessing takes time, the decontamination process is challenging to quantify, and the endoscopes' management after reprocessing is also challenging. These challenges and many others, such as training of staff, maintenance of endoscopes, and the cost of repairs, are driving the endoscope market towards hybrid and single-use endoscopes.

Hybrid and single-use endoscopes offer reduced complexity to the process. Parts or whole endoscopes are delivered to the field sterile without the use of reprocessing. Handling, transportation of soiled endoscopes and storage are reduced or eliminated. The bonus is in the opportunity to reduce HAI's (hospital-acquired infections).

The cost per use on the outset can appear to be high, especially with a disposable colonoscope. However, you need to add to your per-cost use of reusable scopes the cost of staffing for reprocessing, high-level disinfection equipment, annual maintenance and supplies for such equipment, cost of utilities, space for equipment and reprocessing, and most of all the repair cost for the endoscopes.

My experience with disposable endoscopes started in late 2017. One of the hospitals I managed was having trouble funding capital equipment for the replacement of aging endoscopes. Our sterile processing department operated two shifts during the week, excluding the midnight shift and only one weekend shift. Airway scopes were used regularly during the off shifts in the Emergency Room. The endoscopes sat in the soiled utility room for hours before beginning the decontamination process. For this reason, the extended cleaning process had to be employed. Damage with the scopes was a norm, as well as occasionally a turnaround issue. We turned to utilize disposable scopes during the time frame that Sterile Processing was closed. With the new process, we significantly reduced scope damage, and we eliminated turnaround issues. The reduction in repair cost covered the cost of the use of the disposable scopes. Our physician satisfaction was also greatly increased.

If you are challenged with endoscope reprocessing, take a look at what the marketplace offers in the way of hybrid and single-use endoscopes. There are some advantages to using the expanding technology. The quality of the products has dramatically improved in the last five years. Do your due diligence when comparing cost models. I think you might be greatly surprised by what you find when you apply this technology correctly.

At Evolved Sterile Processing, our consultants have a greater focus on sterile processing. With our decades of experience, we will help you develop better processes and educational resources for your staff.


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