While the 2016 Multi-Society Task Force Endoscope Reprocessing Guidelines are an improvement over the 2011 guidelines, some of its minor changes are unlikely to guarantee against prevention of future outbreaks, according to Susan Hutfless, PhD, and Anthony N. Kalloo, MD.

“The prevention of future outbreaks is left to the manufacturers to modify their protocols and the endoscopy units to adopt the protocols rapidly,” the authors, both from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, wrote in a commentary about the 2016 guidelines, which contain 41 recommendations and were endorsed by the AGA. “If followed, the guidelines will make it possible to better track the source of future outbreaks if the tracking and monitoring suggested is performed.” They added that the effectiveness of the current cleaning paradigm for duodenoscopes “is ineffective and these guidelines reflect changes to contain, rather than prevent, future outbreaks.”

The commentary, which is scheduled to appear in the February 2017 issue of Gastroenterology ( doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.12.030 ), notes that the two major changes added to the 2016 guidelines are language to maintain consistency with the 2015 Food and Drug Administration endoscope reprocessing communications and statements suggesting greater monitoring and tracking of the endoscope throughout the clinical units and cleaning rooms, including timing of events and who performs the key steps. Dr. Hutfless directs the Johns Hopkins Gastrointestinal Epidemiology Research Center, while Dr. Kalloo directs the university’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology.

Some of the specific changes to the 2016 guidelines include recommendation no. 5, which has been revised to recommend “strict adherence” to manufacturer guidance. “The expectation is that all personnel will remain up to date with the manufacturer guidelines and that there will be documentation of the training,” Dr. Hutfless and Dr. Kalloo wrote. The 2016 guidelines specifically state that a “single standard work process within one institution may be insufficient, given differences among manufacturers’ instructions and varied instrument designs.” However, Dr. Hutfless and Dr. Kalloo point out that “an individual or group of individuals may need to be identified to keep up with the FDA, CDC, manufacturer and professional societies in order to modify and implement the changes to the cleaning and training protocols and update the training of all individuals in the unit. It is unclear from the guidelines what the minimum time should be between change in recommendations and updated training.”

Recommendation no. 24 is new and includes a suggestion consistent with the 2015 FDA endoscope reprocessing communications. “Beyond the reprocessing steps discussed in these recommendations, no validated methods for additional duodenoscope reprocessing currently exist,” the guidelines state. “However, units should review and consider the feasibility and appropriateness for their practice of employing one or more of the additional modalities suggested by the FDA for duodenoscopes: intermittent or per procedure culture surveillance of reprocessing outcomes, sterilization with ethylene oxide gas, repeat application of standard high level disinfection, or use of a liquid chemical germicide.” For their part, Dr. Hutfless and Dr. Kalloo pointed out the limitations of these additional modalities. For example, they wrote, “the per procedure culture surveillance modality suggested by the FDA is not cost-effective unless the unit’s transmission probability of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae is 24% or greater. Sterilization with ethylene oxide is problematic because a unit that used this approach still encountered an endoscope with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae detected by culture. This unit also incurred extra costs to purchase additional scopes due to the longer reprocessing time for sterilization and had a greater number of endoscopes with damage, although the damage was not directly attributable to sterilization” ( Gastrointest Endosc. 2016 Aug;84:259-62 ).

In 2016, the FDA approved the first disposable colonoscope, a product that is expected to be available in the United States in early 2017. Dr. Hutfless and Dr. Kalloo ended their commentary by suggesting that a disposable endoscope with an elevator mechanism, though not currently available, could be a solution to several of the unresolved issues that were present in the 2003, 2011, and 2016 guidelines. “These unresolved issues include interval of storage after reprocessing, microbiologic surveillance, and endoscope durability and longevity,” they wrote. “If the outbreaks persist after the use of disposable endoscopes it is possible that it is some other product or procedure within the endoscopic procedure that is the source of the infectious transmission.”


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