Despite cleaning guidelines, scopes still cause infection: 5 study takeaways

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Contamination associated with various scopes has become a serious concern since the hard-to-clean devices have been linked to hospital-acquired infections and "superbug" outbreaks. New research suggests that regardless of whether or not established guidelines for cleaning and disinfection are followed, endoscopes almost always harbor pathogens that could harm patients.

Here are five key takeaways from the study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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• All 13 endoscopes in the study were cleaned according to standard guidelines. Although visible residue was never apparent to technicians after manual cleaning, researchers occasionally observed residue when swabbing for samples.
• After a bedside cleaning, microbes were still detected on 100 percent of endoscopes.
• After a manual cleaning, 92 percent of endoscopes still had microbial residue that exceeded benchmarks.
• Of the 13 endoscopes tested, six contained microbial residue high enough to warrant additional cleaning. After recleaning and disinfection, three of the six still contained viable microbes.
• After overnight storage, 82 percent of endoscopes tested positive for pathogens.

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