The Significance of Flexible Endoscope Maintenance in Healthcare Facilities

Shyerome Harris Professional Headshot
The Significance of Flexible Endoscope Maintenance in Healthcare Facilities
August 14, 2023
5 min read
A medical professional holding a medical power device to finish a set of dentures.

Enhancing Patient Safety and Cost Savings through Flexible Endoscope Maintenance

Flexible endoscope

A Wholistic Approach to Maintaining Flexible Endoscope Systems

If you have been in a hospital, you have seen the various instruments and devices used by medical professionals to ensure that we are running in tip-top shape. What you don’t see are the people behind the scenes ensuring that the various instruments and devices are labeled as clean, in working order, and, more importantly, safe to use. For medical professionals, BPI Medical plays a large role in making sure devices are in great shape; for medical care facilities, BPI Medical ensures that costly expenses are avoided by providing routine maintenance and repair services to every device and instrument used in the facility.

There are two types of endoscope systems used in a variety of procedures, ranging from removing sinus infections to taking biopsies for research on cancer and other major illnesses. The purpose of endoscopes is for medical care providers to provide care while utilizing a minimally invasive procedure to obtain more information regarding a patient or confirm a suspicion from other non-invasive means of care such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ECGs, etc.

Flex department inside of BPI Medical's 33,000 sq. ft. facility.
Flex department inside of BPI Medical's 33,000 sq. ft. facility.

BPI Medical is in Fife, WA, in a 33,000-square-foot facility, currently only occupying half of its available square footage, with expansion efforts soon to be able to utilize the other half. Our highly experienced technicians are always finding new ways to provide innovative solutions to the facilities that we provide services for. Olympus, Storz, Pentax, Fuji, and many other smaller-brand endoscopes enter the facility with various issues ranging from loss of image to physical damage.

"We can fix any scope that enters the building. We pride ourselves on being able to take flexible endoscopes, utilizing both older and newer technology, and providing top-level service to ensure that broken scopes that enter our building leave in a status equated to brand new."

Being located locally, as well as having just shy of 50 years of experience, makes a huge difference when identifying the root cause and providing solutions. Ultimately, this affects the overall price extended to the customer.

"Whenever we receive a scope in, we conduct extensive diagnostic testing to be able to identify what could be producing the problem before taking the scope apart. This allows us to have an idea of where to start looking once we take apart the scope, so that way we minimize the amount of time we spend working on the scope. Sticking to our values of quick turnaround times and valuing the customer’s time”

When asked about the average savings from repairing the endoscopes rather than purchasing a new one, the consensus was that buying new endoscope systems was not the most feasible solution for medical care providers. Not only does the scope cost a considerable amount, but training the staff on an entirely new system is quite a fiscal burden for hospitals. To avoid this avoidable expense, hospitals turn to repair facilities such as BPI Medical to keep from buying new systems.

To provide a holistic approach to flexible endoscope repair, technicians state that avoiding unnecessary damage is paramount to the longevity of the devices. Undoubtedly, we can repair them; however, technicians highly recommend that hospitals develop a better system to identify maintenance intervals regarding endoscope systems, like ones used by automobile manufacturers. With heavier use in hospitals without many available scopes, the intervals may be shorter; however, if there are a greater number of scopes in rotation, the duration between routine maintenance could be significantly longer. Generally, technicians recommend 90- to 120-day intervals between seeing scopes back to ensure that they are properly cleaned and maintained to obtain the highest life expectancy of the devices.

Leak testing a flexible scope

Additionally, care and handling courses are recommended to help reduce avoidable damage caused by mishandling, incorrect sanitation procedures, and not allowing an adequate amount of time in the device’s dry cycle after being autoclaved post-surgery. The average lifecycle for a device is about eight to ten months. Technicians state, “…the goal is to not see the same scope in our facility before the one-year mark.” With some consideration for those with heavier use or mishandling. Contrary to what you believe, over repair could also shorten the longevity of your endoscope, along with the number of times a device is cleaned. Whether it be via autoclave or other means, it is always of utmost importance to follow OEM specifications regarding how many times a device can be cleaned before maintenance. Although daunting, it is important to read the maintenance handbook regarding how many times a device is cleaned. For example, if the OEM states that a device can only be cleaned 100 times before maintenance; anything over the 100th time, essentially, is breaking down the scope. Neglecting this recommendation leads to more costly repairs because what could have been avoided by sending it in at the 100th cleaning mark before the deterioration of certain parts (e.g., seals) now leads to parts being used outside of their expected lifecycle, failing, and leading to a more costly repair.

In conclusion, prioritizing flexible endoscope maintenance not only ensures the safety and efficacy of medical procedures but also provides substantial cost savings for healthcare facilities. By implementing proactive maintenance strategies, adhering to OEM specifications, and investing in staff training, hospitals can extend the lifespan of their endoscope systems and optimize their overall operational efficiency.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

For more recommendations, tips, and insights to cost savings and maintaining a better maintained inventory of devices and equipment, be sure to follow our social media pages and subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates and stay in the know!

Medical Professionals using a flexible endoscope on an image processor.