Released on Apr 30, 2018

ASGE Response to LA Times and Kaiser Health News Stories on Scope Cleaning

An April 23 article in Kaiser Health News and the LA Times reports on a study that found some remaining microbes on a small number of medical scopes after cleaning. It is important to note that this was a very small study of three facilities and should not be considered an indication of the effectiveness of scope reprocessing (cleaning) in the thousands of other healthcare facilities in the US.  

ASGE agrees that any lapses in following reprocessing protocol are unacceptable. This protocol includes diligently following manufacturers’ instructions, guidance from the federal government, and guidance from professional societies including ASGE.  
An example of such guidance is the Essential Elements of a Reprocessing Program for Flexible Endoscopes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations.

Professional societies, including ASGE, as well as federal agencies, have been working for the past several years to ensure that every medical facility recognizes the vital importance of vigilance in cleaning and disinfecting scopes used for screening, diagnosing and treating patients.

As a result of these efforts, we believe that the vast majority of healthcare facilities have elevated their processes and practices to keep any risk of infection at the lowest level possible. 

However, this is an important reminder that each and every endoscopy center MUST adhere to the latest guidelines and instructions for reprocessing their equipment. We must not let our guard down. Every facility must have in place a reprocessing program that includes thorough training and ongoing education, with the ability to assess competency of those trained to reprocess instruments and devices.

ASGE has numerous resources to guide healthcare providers in endoscope reprocessing and other important infection control issues, and keeps members apprised of current guidance on this matter through ongoing and timely communications.  

Patients will want to ask their healthcare provider about the facility in which their procedure will take place. Facilities or units should be asked what guidelines they follow for cleaning and disinfecting scopes. Patients can also ask how the facility ensures and assesses the competency of its reprocessing staff on an ongoing basis.

While all healthcare facilities must meet specific standards, there are additional voluntary measures they can take to demonstrate their commitment to quality and safety. For example, they can pursue accreditation by AAAHC, the Joint Commission, or similar bodies. For gastrointestinal endoscopy units, ASGE offers the Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program.  

No medical procedure is without some small risk. But at ASGE, we take seriously the best practices and recommendations that help to avoid these risks and maximize the safety of patients.   



About Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures allow the gastroenterologist to visually inspect the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach and duodenum) and the lower bowel (colon and rectum) through an endoscope, a thin, flexible device with a lighted end and a powerful lens system. Endoscopy has been a major advance in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. For example, the use of endoscopes allows the detection of ulcers, cancers, polyps and sites of internal bleeding. Through endoscopy, tissue samples (biopsies) may be obtained, areas of blockage can be opened and active bleeding can be stopped. Polyps in the colon can be removed, which has been shown to prevent colon cancer.

About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence and innovation in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 15,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education. Visit and for more information and to find a qualified doctor in your area.

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
3300 Woodcreek Drive Downers Grove, IL 60515
P (630) 573-0600
F (630) 963-8332

Media Contact

Gina Steiner
Director of Communications