The Baltimore Sun – April 30, 2021 – Hallie Miller
The coronavirus pandemic has altered social norms and daily routines, influenced consumer spending and upended the global economy. It also may be changing the way medical professionals examine and operate inside your body.
Reusable medical scopes have long been the standard in patient care settings, despite isolated reports of contamination, infection and even death emerging from hospitals alleged to have failed to fully sanitize the devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that the risk associated with reusable scopes is “relatively low,” provided that cleaning and reprocessing guidelines are strictly followed.
Hospitals currently are not required to track which patients receive which scopes, which could pose problems in controlling a potential contamination event, said Madris Kinard, a former FDA official and the CEO of Device Events, a company that tracks adverse events and equipment recalls in medical settings.
She said patients may not be aware of the life span of the instruments used to examine their insides.
“I look at it as a systemic issue, that these devices can’t be cleaned,” Kinard said. “If the FDA could identify a better way to clean them, they would’ve tried, and manufacturers are trying too.”
Kinard said there have been 2,600 contamination reports filed to the FDA in the last decade, a figure that may be vastly underreported. Contamination reports decreased in 2020, which Kinard said is likely due either to the introduction of scopes with disposable parts or the number of elective procedures decreasing during the pandemic.