Disposable scopes are exactly as they sound. Medical scopes utilized for the bladder, lungs, colon, etc. can be made reusable or disposable. Disposable scopes allow faster and more flexible assessments for patients. Additionally, they help to cut down on nosocomial contamination.
The Ofstead Study warned that reusable bronchoscopes can become contaminated, leading to secondary infections as well as increased mortality rates for those diagnosed with COVID-19. The risk from contaminated equipment can be a threat for both patients and healthcare workers alike.
This study was published in the Journal called Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
Bronchoscopes are used to obtain samples from patient’s lungs as well as to wash the lungs out. While we don’t have a number for how many COVID-19 patients receive these procedures, it is certainly not uncommon. Further, it is the most accurate way to test for the virus to date.
Unfortunately, nowadays most bronchoscopes are the reusable kind.
Of course these scopes are disinfected following each use, but this cleaning process must be meticulous, and even outside of times of crises, is not as thorough as needed.
These researchers advocate for disposable scopes. No patient should have to suffer an additional, preventable infection from reused medical equipment. This prevention is the obligation of medical institutions. It is for both the patient’s and the institutions’ own staffs’ safety.
This is especially paramount during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as we have seen that patients who are suffering from another infection in addition to the virus, face significantly worse outcomes.
Ambu is a Danish company that was founded in 1937. They have pioneered the manufacturing of single-use bronchoscopes. The Ambu aScope is the world’s very first flexible, single-use endoscope.
They are also releasing a flexible, single-use cystoscope for bladder procedures. This device is called the Ambu aScope 4 Cysto.
The use of disposable scopes essentially completely drops patient’s risk of cross-infection.
These disposable scopes also free up time. Nurses don’t need to waste time on the tedious process of cleaning reusables scopes. This will also provide greater flexibility in scheduling appointments and ensuring all patients are seen when they need to be.
Below, are some visualizations of the scopes, curtesy of Ambu Inc. The first image shows the articulation with angle included. The second shows a full disposable scope. The third shows a MD pushing a monitor and carrying an aScope.
You can read more about these disposable scopes here.