Keywords: proficiency, competency, reusable medical equipment, endoscope, reprocessing
Patient safety is an urgent national issue for healthcare today. Morbidity and mortality resulting from human error among hospitalized patients has risen throughout the United States, and heightens concern about professional competency (Kohn et.al, 2000). Technicians, nurses and other health care professionals are under increased pressure to provide safe and effective care. One area of concern affecting patient safety is the use of unclean reusable medical equipment (RME), such as flexible fiberoptic endoscopes (FFE), delivered from the Sterile Processing Service (SPS). Endoscopes are complex pieces of equipment used to identify and evaluate the function of internal organs and cavities. They are inserted into a patient during colonoscopies, endoscopic ultrasounds, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and other procedures and are used in over 20 million gastroenterology (GI) endoscopic procedures annually in the United States (Everhart, 2008). It is estimated that infections associated with GI endoscopy occur at a rate of 1 in almost 2 million procedures (Schembre, 2000) and that the source of these infections is either failure to follow established reprocessing guidelines, or the use of defective equipment (ASGE Quality Assurance in Endoscopy Committee, 2011).