Endoscope Disinfection Controversy Continues

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NEW YORK - The proper disinfection of endoscopes has reached national media. After a recent Pseudomonas outbreak at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, more attention is being paid to the proper cleaning of these delicate medical instruments.

Healthcare officials were interviewed last week by reporters on ABC's morning program, "Good Morning America." They reported that 15 million endoscopic procedures are performed in the United States annually, with the chance of become infected from a contaminated endoscope being one in 1.8 million,

However, other officials disagree. David Lewis, a microbiologist with the University of Georgia, reportedly told officials on the program that the infection rate could be as high as several patients per 100 procedures.

Tracing a specific microbe or bacteria back the endoscope after a patient becomes ill can be a difficult process, potentially altering the true infection rates.

Hospital officials at the Summit Surgical Center in Voorhees, N. J. are facing a lawsuit from 1,800 former patients who may have been treated with endoscopes that were not cleaned properly. The machine the center was using to clean the instruments was reportedly not working properly for a two-week period.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy say endoscopes are not being cleaned to industry standards.

Officials are now pursing disposable endoscope technology to rid the procedure of potential noscomial infections.

Information from www.abc.com

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