Bits and pieces of "biological dirt" from inside people's colons are being left on three in 20 of the instruments inserted in people's rectums to examine their lower digestive tract, according to a study at five hospitals nationwide.
"Three out of 20 is an unexpectedly high number of endoscopes failing a cleanliness criterion," said Marco Bommarito, an investigator with 3M's infection prevention division, which conducted the study. "Clearly, we'd like no endoscopes to fail a cleanliness rating."
Rates for biodirt were as high as 30% for reusable endoscopes used for upper gastrointestinal exams, according to the study, presented at the annual conference for the Assn. for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The study comes after thousands of patients in the last four years have had to undergo HIV and hepatitis testing after authorities uncovered improper cleaning practices at hospitals, including several run by the Veterans Affairs Department.