Professional practice guidelines for endoscope reprocessing recommend reprocessing endoscopes between each case, and proper storage following reprocessing after the last case of the list.
There is limited empirical evidence to support the efficacy of endoscope reprocessing prior to use in the first case of the day.
However, internationally, many guidelines continue to recommend this practice.
Dr Osborne and colleagues from Australia estimated a safe shelf life for flexible endoscopes in a high-turnover gastroenterology unit.
|The mean shelf life of the endoscopes was 38 hours|
The team conducted a prospective observational study assessing 200 flexible endoscopes in active service during the 3-week study period.
The endoscopes were microbiologically sampled prior to reprocessing before the first case of the day.
The research team's main outcome variables were culture status, organism cultured, and shelf life.
The researchers found among the total number of useable samples that the overall contamination rate was 16%, with a pathogenic contamination rate of less than 1%.
Mean time between last case one day and reprocessing before the first case on the next day was 38 hours, or a median shelf life of 19 hours.
The most frequently identified organism was coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, an environmental nonpathogenic organism.
Dr Osborne's team concluded, "When processed according to established guidelines, flexible endoscopes remain free from pathogenic organisms between last case and next day first case use."
"Significant reductions in the expenditure of time and resources on reprocessing endoscopes have the potential to reduce the restraints experienced by high-turnover endoscopy units and improve service delivery."