Government urges all facilities to double down on device cleaning process

Healthcare was rocked by the revelation earlier this year that improperly-cleaned medical scopes spread deadly superbugs in hospital settings, but contaminated medical equipment poses a similar risk in outpatient settings and doctors' offices, according to a new advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Several recent incidents prompted the advisory. A recent Joint Commission inspection of Kadlec Health System clinics in Washington state found multiple flaws and inconsistencies in the clinics' device-cleaning protocols, a CDC spokesperson told Medscape. Meanwhile, the Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center of Seattle Children's Hospital notified more than 10,000 patients of potential infection risk after the discovery of improper device cleaning that went back to 2010.

All healthcare facilities and clinicians should immediately review device-cleaning protocols, the advisory states, in addition to specifically training all employees responsible for reprocessing these devices. This training should be provided upon hire and at least once a year thereafter, as well as whenever new devices are introduced or training recommendations change for existing devices.

In addition, the advisory states, all facilities should hold regular audits for adherence to cleaning, disinfection, sterilization and storage procedures. Facilities should establish clear procedures for responding to any errors or failures in device reprocessing.

The advisory marks a departure from previous CDC and FDA guidance, which have primarily concerned duodenoscopes, the device associated with the superbug spread. This advisory, however, significantly expands that scope by addressing reusable devices in general, epidemiologist Joseph Perz of the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion told Medscape.

To learn more:
- here's the advisory
- read the Medscape article