Duodenoscopes contain more bacteria than expected


Reprocessed duodenoscopes are more contaminated than expected, with up to 3% of samples testing positive for disease-causing bacteria including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, according to an updated safety communication issued by the Food and Drug Administration on December 10.

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“Because of the higher-than-expected contamination rates and to help protect patients from bacterial infections associated with the use of duodenoscopes, we have included in today’s safety communication updated recommendations regarding steps that health care providers can take to enhance duodenoscope reprocessing,” Jeff Shuren, MD, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, wrote in the statement.

The FDA advised clinicians to follow additional cleaning measures including microbiological culturing, sterilization, use of a liquid chemical sterilant processing system, and repeated high-level disinfection beyond what is recommended by duodenoscope manufacturers.

The interim data cited in the safety communication come from postmarket surveillance studies conducted by duodenoscope manufacturers at the FDA’s request as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to prevent patient infections caused by contaminated duodenoscopes. In addition to the positive tests for disease-causing bacteria, up to 3% of properly collected samples contained more than 100 colony-forming units of other organisms unlikely to cause infection. However, the presence of such organisms further highlights the failure of the current reprocessing protocol to adequately clean the devices, according to the FDA.

Dr. Shuren emphasized that the risk of infection from a duodenoscope for an individual patient remains low and that infection rates have declined in recent years in response to the FDA’s enhanced safety measures and stated that the agency remains “committed to enhancing the safety margin of procedures with reprocessed medical devices.”

Read the full safety communication here: https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm628020.htm.

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