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INSIDE THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2009

2009 Endoscope Maintenance Guide

Using RFID technology for endoscope management

by Robert Gibson

As one of the largest and busiest academic medical centers in the country and recently ranked as one of the top ten best hospitals in the nation by U.S News and World Report, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center has experienced significant growth in our Endoscopy service over the past several years. As such, our quantity of flexible endoscopes has grown significantly, leading to a current inventory of more than one hundred and seventy-five flexible endoscopes, and on average eighty that are used and reprocessed on a daily basis. As we started the planning stages for opening a new 500,000 square foot outpatient facility that would support our outpatient Endoscopy Unit, the Perioperative Services division identified a need to incorporate new approaches in managing these important and expensive assets.

Before opening the outpatient facility, the Endoscopy service practiced in our main hospital facility where flexible endoscopes were stored and used in a variety of locations. The locations were on various floors and created challenges in accurately tracking, documenting, and communicating their status within the facility. Given the importance these instruments play in the care delivery process, the organization sought a new approach to manage the devices centered on the following objectives:

• Improve the control of instruments and heighten accountability for use within the organization

• Introduce automation around processes for storage, utilization, and reprocessing

• Align and support the existing organizational patient safety and quality initiatives for world class patient care

With these objectives driving the search for a new approach to our endoscope management, we identified a unique technology to support our efforts. The organization selected an endoscope tracking technology from Mobile Aspects, a Pittsburgh-based technology provider. The system was implemented shortly after the opening of the new outpatient facility in the fall of 2008.

The system uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to automate the processes associated with endoscope storage, utilization, and reprocessing. In using RFID technology, each endoscope has a unique RFID tag applied to the flexible endoscope. In addition to the RFID tags, the endoscope tracking system consists of two primary components.

The first component is a set of cabinet-based storage units that store, protect, and monitor the use of our flexible endoscopes. These units are located within a central storage area of the Endoscopy Unit and only allow authorized users to access the system and remove endoscopes. Users are required to identify the patient or procedure where the endoscope(s) will be used prior to removing it. The system automatically associates the devices to the patient selected as well as to the staff member who removed the device.

The second component is a workstation located in our reprocessing area that tracks the high-level disinfection of the flexible endoscopes following a procedure. Once the endoscope has been decontaminated, it is received into the reprocessing area for high-level disinfection. The workstation automates the receipt of the devices using the RFID technology and then through software automation tracks the testing of the AER’s disinfectant efficacy, placement of the endoscopes into AERs and adherence to our reprocessing procedures. Upon completion of reprocessing, the endoscopes are returned back to the storage units in an adjacent room.

Upon implementing the system, we have realized initial success towards the objectives we identified. The storage of the flexible endoscopes has been centralized into a single location with effective controls put in place to monitor instrument removal and utilization. The automated processes from the RFID technology along with the system’s easy-to-use touch screen software have allowed the technology to be quickly adopted by our staff.

Process automation has been put in place for key parts of the endoscope utilization cycle. Most notably, within our reprocessing areas we have moved towards a more effective approach in maintaining optimal levels of quality through the steps to high-level disinfection.

Lastly, the system has provided a patient-centric approach to ensure a focus on patient safety and quality is maintained at all times. As an example of this, the system has the capability to send alerts via phone or email around potential safety risks such as an endoscope being returned to storage without validation that reprocessing has occurred. Although no incidents of patient safety or quality control risk had been experienced prior to implementing the technology, this type of ongoing surveillance and notification gives us an added level of confidence we are creating an optimal care environment.

Robert Gibson is the Assistant Director of Instrument Processing at the PENN SURGICENTRE and PENN ENDOSCOPY CENTER at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

 

 


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Copyright © 2016
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         Clinical intelligence for supply chain leadership