Endoscopies can present a risk of spreading viral infections, if thorough protective measures are not taken. Bronchoscopes appear to carry the most significant risk. However, most procedures pose some level of risk, including colonoscopies. As continuing endoscopic procedures is integral for supporting some patients’ well-being, it is important to consider strategies to move forward while mitigating risk.
Some facilities are now making N95 masks mandatory PPE, instead of just for those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Now, for those who test positive, most facilities will only complete the procedure if the issue will cause death or further deterioration if left untreated, and patients will be kept in a room isolated from the rest of the premises. Also, the number of individuals in the procedure room will be limited.
Although less endoscopy procedures are currently being sought after compared to normal, endoscopy suites are still in high demand, as many staff members have been temporarily shifted to other positions, such as testing for COVID-19. Other members have shifted to telehealth positions, or have begun formulating contingency plans.
Unbeknownst to some, many cleaning practices used in endoscopy facilities pre-pandemic are currently deemed to be thorough enough to be safe to continue, unaltered. Single-use items are ideal when available, but semicritical instruments appear to be safe to reuse with current sanitization practices. The nature of the virus makes it destructible using common disinfectants already in use. However, extra attention must be paid to the maintenance and structural integrity of the equipment used. If any damage to equipment occurs, this could obstruct the cleaning of the equipment, increasing risk.
Although new safety measures are being mandated, there exist some barriers to their full adoption. Shortage of PPE may hinder staff’s ability to properly disinfect and prevent transmission.
“If hospitals don’t have enough personal protective equipment for their front-line nurses, they likely are not going to have enough for endoscope cleaning techs either,” said Lawrence Muscarella, PhD, the president of LFM Healthcare Solutions LLC.
It is also important to adapt strategies as needed, as the current circumstances are rapidly evolving. Some PPE previously considered disposable and single-use is being used multiple times. Practices such as these should not be accepted permanently as the new norm, as this can impair infection control efforts in the future.
For Further Information
This recent development presents interesting implications for the future of the endoscopy device market. iData Research’s Gastrointestinal Endoscopes Market Report | United States | 2019-2025 | MedCore report contains a detailed market analysis, including in-depth interviews and procedural volumes.