Endoscopes are medical devices that consist of a tube with a small camera connected to the end. They enable a doctor or surgeon to see a patient’s interior organs, allowing them to make a diagnosis, execute surgeries, and complete other tasks. Endoscopes are utilized in various medical procedures, including colonoscopies, micro surgeries, and other treatments.
Endoscopes have been related to a variety of infections and other health hazards. Because of their design, some endoscopes might be difficult to clean adequately and can retain fluids or pathogens from a patient after surgery.
Lack of cleanliness or failure to clean an endoscope can allow bacteria to survive after disinfection, resulting in cross-contamination between patients.
Duodenoscopes are comparable to endoscopes in appearance and function, as well as in terms of infection risk. Conversely, endoscopes do not bend or flex like Duodenoscopes and are easier to clean.
What Are the Main Concerns About Infection Prevention and Control During Gastrointestinal Endoscopy?
Endoscopy of the gastrointestinal tract dates back to 1911 when the gastroscope was invented. It wasn’t until 1950 that the “gastro camera” was created, allowing doctors to photograph gastric ulcers.
Since then, the area of endoscopy has grown dramatically, with the introduction of the first flexible fiberoptic endoscope in 1961.
The first symposium on the dangers of endoscopic operations, held in England in 1979, raised awareness of infection transmission and joint attempts to create suitable cleaning criteria. Many disinfection criteria have developed over the last 50 years to match advances in endoscope complexity and endogenous microbial burden.
Endoscopy infections can arise either endogenously or exogenously—pathogens spread through a breach produced following an endoscopic surgery, resulting in endogenous infections.
Exogenous infections are transmitted from patient to patient by contaminated equipment or endoscopic employees to patients. This section will concentrate on external infection pathways.
The long-standing challenges with infection control are related to the endoscope’s intrinsic complexity and compliance with cleaning. With the development of modern non-autoclavable fiberoptic endoscopes, sterilization is no longer technically feasible, and the endoscope must be disinfected to a high degree. Endoscopes cannot be fully bacteria-free in practice.
The actual goal of reprocessing processes is to prevent pathogen transmission from patient to patient.
What Practices Are Required for Infection Prevention and Control During Endoscopy?
Most illnesses occurred before the 1988 multi-society guidelines, which stressed effective manual cleaning and the use of approved high-level disinfectants. It has been demonstrated numerous times that effective manual cleaning is the most critical step in minimizing microbial burden, regardless of soak time, disinfectant type, or processor employed.
What Endoscopic Research Informs Contemporary Infection Control Strategies and Policies?
Since the 1990s, the FDA has required healthcare providers and manufacturers to disclose any information that reasonably implies that a device (such as an endoscope, accessory, or automated endoscope washer-disinfector) caused or contributed to a patient’s death, damage, or serious illness.
According to a 1993 analysis, gastrointestinal endoscopy was responsible for 281 cases of pathogen transmission. Infectious organism transmission during gastrointestinal endoscopy was considered unusual even at the time, with rates of 1 in 1.8 million instances between 1993 and 2003; there were only five more recorded cases, all of which occurred outside the United States.
Only 35 cases of infection transmission during GI endoscopy had been recorded in the previous decade, according to Nelson et al. 2003 .’s assessment.
In the United States, an estimated 17 million lower GI endoscopies and roughly the same number of upper endoscopies are conducted yearly. If this operation rate remained unchanged over the last decade, the projected infection rate would be one in every ten million surgeries.
In the absence of faulty equipment, every recorded instance of hospital-acquired infection linked to a contaminated GI endoscope has been linked to a breach or violation of at least one of the required reprocessing stages.
There have been no recorded incidences of infection transmission when this high-level disinfection (HLD) standard was followed since the creation of the 2003 multi-society guidelines for the reprocessing of flexible gastrointestinal endoscopes.
It is crucial to highlight that these figures are estimates and are most likely underestimated due to a combination of underreporting, undiagnosed silent infections, or unrecognized correlation of infections with past endoscopy if the organism’s incubation period is particularly long.
Infection transmission is difficult to distinguish between incorrectly processed scopes and insufficient aseptic practices.
What Are the Ramifications of Disregarding Infection Control Advice for Endoscopic Procedures?
Compliance is a never-ending problem.
Every patient must be regarded as a possible source of infection. Failure to follow cleaning recommendations will result in pathogen transmission and misdiagnosis due to retained debris from previous studies, instrument malfunction, and costly replacement/repair. Compliance with reprocessing criteria can be improved in general.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Endoscope-Related Injuries?
In rare situations, a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional may be held accountable for carelessness or medical malpractice if an endoscope causes an injury.
For example, if a medical worker fails to clean an endoscope instrument properly, they may be held accountable if the endoscope causes infection or injury to another patient.
In other situations, the maker of an endoscopic tool may be held accountable for damage caused by a flaw in the device. For example, a fault in the design of the endoscope makes it more prone to retaining germs between sessions. A product liability theory of law could hold the manufacturer accountable.
What Are the Legal Options for Filing an Endoscope Injury Claim?
Endoscope injury claims may necessitate legal action. In these cases, the legal remedy is usually some form of monetary damages award. The damages may cover hospital charges, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
An endoscopic recall may be issued if a certain endoscope product poses a risk to consumers. When the same product has hurt numerous people, class action lawsuits may be filed. Contact a lawyer if you have questions regarding endoscope injury lawsuits and your legal rights.
What Is the Impact of Endoscopy-Related Infections in Comparison to Other Infections?
Flexible endoscopes are the most often used endoscopic tools in clinical practice today. These are sophisticated medical devices with several long, thin working channels vulnerable to torque and angulation pressures.
Special materials and advanced engineering are required, such as cutting-edge electronics, fiber optics, and imaging technology. As a result of the fundamentally complex nature of the device and the operation, there is fear about adequate cleaning of flexible scopes, generating concerns about the endoscopic transfer of infections.
This is based on an estimated 30-35 million flexible endoscopic operations each year in the United States. More importantly, these treatments are carried out in various locations, from a doctor’s office to a hospital operating room.
The techniques used to clean and disinfect these flexible endoscopes are varied. The cleanliness of these scopes after reprocessing is a major problem, regardless of where these procedures are performed.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me in an Endoscope Infection Lawsuit?
Endoscope infection cases can be complicated legal concerns. If you need assistance filing a lawsuit, it may be best to retain a personal injury lawyer in your region. Your attorney can walk you through the procedure while providing legal advice and representation.