Each year, the ECRI institute releases a list of the top patient safety hazards as a reference for Healthcare Organizations. Inadequate reprocessing was included on last year's list in the #10 spot, and has moved up to #8 on this year's list. This issue has also been included for 6 years in a row on ECRI's top 10 list of Health Technology Hazards. The issue of inadequate reprocessing continues to be a critical health issue due to the continued occurrence of infection outbreaks resulting from infectious agents remaining on medical devices such as endoscopes. Because there are multiple steps involved in the process, there is a lot of room for error when it comes to reprocessing an endoscope. ECRI states that if organisms are not removed from an endoscope during the cleaning process, the disinfection process may not affect the organisms adequately. Additionally, endoscopes that are not thoroughly dried create an environment that allows organisms to grow even after reprocessing. ECRI notes that because there are so many variables that are critical to the process, even one small change to the process can impact the quality of disinfection. Because of the highly manual process and detailed steps involved, there is a lot of potential for scopes to go through the process without being adequately disinfection which can result in patient harm, or in serious cases, death.
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