Contaminated Reusable Bronchoscopes Could Cause Secondary Infections and Higher Mortality Rates in COVID-19 Patients: Researchers Warn

AlixPartners Forecasts: Household Products Could Cost U.S. Manufacturers and Consumers 15% More This Year Due to Resin Shortage

While companies can’t control the market forces at play, they can take action to mitigate the risk and impact of supply chain disruption.

How To Control a Radio Frequency (RF) Process

The radio frequency welding and manufacturing process uses electromagnetic energy and pressure to fuse and permanently bond vinyl, thermoplastic, and coated materials to produce a specific product - all according to customer requirements. Using this RF sealing process, a distinct, one-piece perpetual bond is formulated that is both solid and resistant to ripping or tearing. But how is this process controlled, and with what specific tools? Read on.

Cartessa Aesthetics’ Innovative Multi-Modality Treatment Leads Demand for Non-Invasive Body Procedures

PHYSIQ is a novel, dual-modality system that offers deep heat to target tissue and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to re-educate muscle – all from one device and in one session.

Ambu is a rapidly growing medical device maker and pioneer of sterile, single-use endoscopes. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, researchers have flagged a new potential threat: Patients and healthcare staff may be at risk of infection from contaminated bronchoscopes, the devices used to look inside patients’ lungs. They warn that these devices, which are also used to obtain samples and wash outpatients’ lungs, could spread other microbes that may cause secondary infections.

The authors shared these views in a newly released manuscript. The paper was published on April 2 in a special coronavirus edition of the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Exposure to COVID-19 or other pathogens

It is not clear how often COVID-19 patients are receiving bronchoscopies. But it is not uncommon for patients with severe lung ailments to have this procedure, either for diagnosis or as part of their treatment.

“It is possible that contaminated bronchoscopes could infect COVID-19 patients with other infectious diseases,” said Cori L. Ofstead, MSPH, one of the authors. “It’s also possible that contaminated devices could expose health care workers to the virus when they are cleaning and disinfecting them between patients. Given what we’ve learned about the overall level of bronchoscope contamination, we urgently need to know whether healthcare personnel are getting exposed to the virus or other pathogens on bronchoscopes due to the lack of PPE and other supplies.”

A possible solution

The authors note that sterile, disposable bronchoscopes would “substantially reduce the risks” to patients and hospital staff, and also point out that disposable devices are recommended by the American Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology. In addition, many tests for COVID-19 result in false negatives, while a bronchoscopy is the most accurate way to confirm that a patient has the virus, Ofstead states.

Ofstead and her colleagues, however, report that single-use bronchoscopes are not available everywhere, and also may not be effective for some bronchoscopy uses.

This study adds to the mounting evidence that single-use bronchoscopes would be a better option for protecting patients and hospital staff from infection,” said Juan Jose Gonzalez, CEO of Ambu A/S, a medical device maker that has pioneered single-use bronchoscopes.

Based on previous research

The manuscript was authored by Ofstead, Krystina M. Hopkins, MPH, Matthew J. Binnicker, PhD, and Gregory A. Poland, MD. Ofstead is an epidemiologist with 25 years of research experience. She has conducted studies of the risks associated with bronchoscope contamination. The results of her studies have been cited in guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Joint Commission, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Poland is the director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic and an expert in vaccine-preventable infections including pandemic influenza and coronaviruses.

The manuscript, which was independently funded, bases its views on the authors’ previous research on bronchoscope contamination and vaccine-preventable infections. A 2018 study, which was peer-reviewed and published in Chest Journal, looked at bronchoscope use at three U.S. hospitals and discovered microbial and fungal growth on 58% percent of the devices.

The manuscript notes that clinicians have reported that some COVID-19 patients are also suffering from other bacterial and fungal lung infections, and that patients with multiple infections tend to fare significantly worse. The fact that such patients are especially vulnerable makes it even more important to ensure that bronchoscopes are not spreading such co-infections to COVID-19 patients, the authors say.

Reprocessing effectiveness

Currently, most bronchoscopes are reusable, and are cleaned and disinfected after each procedure. Ofstead and her colleagues argue that cleaning and disinfection are difficult to do properly and are often done incorrectly even under normal circumstances.

The authors acknowledge that reprocessing effectiveness has not been evaluated in epidemic settings and research is needed to confirm that COVID-19, influenza viruses, and other pathogens are eliminated in these settings.

“No patient should suffer from preventable nosocomial infections due to bronchoscopy,” Ofstead said. “Using bronchoscopes that have physical defects and harbor viruses, bacteria, or fungi puts vulnerable patients at risk and could have adverse effects on public health. Institutions are obligated to protect both patients and reprocessing personnel and ensure bronchoscope reprocessing practices adhere to guidelines and manufacturer instructions.”



Mediclinic Appoints 2 New Independent Non-Executive Directors

Natalia Barsegiyan and Zarina Bassa will bring significant and diverse skills and experience, complementing those of existing Board members. I am confident they will both be great additions to our Board of Directors.”

Asensus Surgical Appoints Two New Board Members

Asensus Surgical, Inc. (NYSE American: ASXC), a medical device company that is digitizing the interface between the surgeon and the patient to pioneer a new era of Performance-Guided Surgery™, today announced the expansion of its Board of Directors, appointing...

Our Sister Publication: Biotechnology News Magazine

Subscribe to Medical Device News Magazine here.