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Current Instrument Reprocessing Practices: Results of a National Survey

Muscarella, Lawrence F. PhD


In June 1998, a questionnaire was mailed to approximately 2,900 healthcare professionals to assess current instrument reprocessing and infection control practices and determine whether they have changed during the past decade. Surveys were returned from 146 respondents whose facilities performed gastrointestinal endoscopy. Most respondents were registered nurses and almost all worked in healthcare facilities located in the United States. More than 75% of the respondents reported that infection control practices in endoscopy have improved during the past 10 years. Most respondents used glutaraldehyde to reprocess flexible endoscopes. Immersing endoscopes for 20 minutes at room temperature was commonly practiced. Almost 75% of respondents used an automated device to reprocess flexible endoscopes. Most respondents terminally rinsed the endoscope’s channels with 70% alcohol followed by forced-air drying. Few respondents outsourced instruments to a commercial reprocessing company and almost 50% reused disposable items. While some practices in endoscope reprocessing have changed during the past several years, others have not. In general, infection controls appear to have improved during the past decade, with the possible exception of a trend to reuse single-use items.

About the author: Lawrence F. Muscarella, PhD, is Director, Research and Development and Chief, Infection Control, Custom Ultrasonics, Inc., Ivyland, Pennsylvania.

Received October 16, 2000; accepted February 8, 2001.

Address correspondence to: Lawrence F. Muscarella, PhD, Custom Ultrasonics, Inc., 144 Railroad Drive, Ivyland, PA 18974 (e-mail:

© The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses & Associates 2001. All Rights Reserved.