Single-use endoscopy: 3 leading physicians weigh in on the safety, clinical and financial benefits

Endoscopy is used in a variety of medical specialties ranging from gastroenterology to urology, cardiology and critical care. Traditionally, health systems have invested in reusable endoscopy equipment, but an industrywide transition toward single-use endoscopes is gaining momentum. 

During a virtual featured session sponsored by Ambu as part of Becker's Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting, three experts discussed their experiences with single-use endoscopy and the benefits of this technology:

  • James Horowitz, MD, cardiologist and critical care specialist, NYU Langone Health Tisch Hospital in New York City
  • Juan S. Tejada, MD, gastroenterologist, Memorial Health System in Marysville, Ohio
  • Srinivas Vourganti, MD, assistant professor in the department of surgery, Rush Medical College in Chicago

Four key takeaways: 

  1. Single-use endoscopes enhance patient safety. A major reason why clinicians are transitioning to single-use endoscopy systems is because they're safer for patients. "One of the main issues with reusable ERCP scopes is increased risk of bacterial infections," Dr. Tejada said. "The scopes and elevators are difficult to clean … We no longer worry about that since we now use a new, single-use scope each time." As the COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to rise and patients return to elective procedures, many are more cautious and concerned about the risk of infections. Some are even asking for single-use endoscopes. 
  2. Ambu's single-use scopes also improve safety for clinicians. The Ambu BronchoSamplerTM, for example, is a proprietary trap that connects directly onto the scope. This eliminates exposure to viral material that occurs when physicians connect plastic traps to reusable scopes during bronchoscopies. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYU Langone Health Tisch Hospital had 200 intubated patients. "Patients were clogging tubes with secretions left and right," Dr. Horowitz said. "There's no way we could have kept up without deploying disposable scopes. A team of surgeons scoped room after room. They did hundreds of bronchoscopies and none of them contracted COVID-19." 
  3. Health systems are recognizing that single-use endoscopes make financial sense. Rush Medical College administrators, for example, discovered that single-use endoscopes eliminate the repair costs associated with reusable equipment. "When they compared six figures in repair costs for replaceable equipment with the cost of single-use scopes, the decision was a no-brainer," Dr. Vourganti said.  
  4. Single-use scope systems offer state-of-the-art technology, as well as superior clinical integration. The technology in reusable endoscopy equipment is outdated compared to Ambu's single-use platform. "My bronch tower is like a VCR. It doesn't have Wi-Fi and it doesn't connect to my EMR," Dr. Horowitz said. "My Ambu screen and the EMR system are integrated, so I can upload all my images. This is becoming an increasingly important regulatory compliance issue with diagnosis and billing. I'm excited about that." Ambu's system is also user friendly. The scoping experience for clinicians is comparable to that of reusable equipment, so no additional training is required. 

To view this session on-demand, click here.

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