Ureteroscope cleaning and sterilization processes leave instruments contaminated, study finds

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The process by which institutions clean and sterilize ureteroscopes leaves the instruments contaminated with debris, residue and bacteria, according to a new study presented at the 44th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology held in Portland, Ore., June 14-16.

Ureteroscopes are inserted into a patient's urinary tract to remove or identify kidney stones. To assess the efficacy of ureteroscope reprocessing procedures, researchers sampled 16 ureteroscopes used in two separate facilities after the instruments were treated with hydrogen peroxide gas. Testing of the samples revealed contamination on all 16 scopes.

Researchers detected hemoglobin on 63 percent of scopes. Forty-four percent of scopes had higher than anticipated adenosine triphosphate levels. Additionally, visual inspections identified debris, oily deposits and a white foamy residue researchers had never encountered.

"APIC is concerned that the techniques used in the field are insufficient and that current methods in place are introducing more contamination with the reprocessing of each scope," said Linda Greene, RN, 2017 APIC president. "The results of this study are concerning and should prompt hospitals to ensure that proper cleaning verification and visual inspections are being performed."

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