Interior Health advises 9,000 patients re: problems with endoscope cleaning

KAMLOOPS – Interior Health has sent letters to approximately 9,000 patients who underwent endoscopic (scoping) procedures at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops between March 6, 2008, and July 15, 2010, notifying them that the scopes used in their procedures may not have received full disinfection.

  • Dec. 13, 2010 7:00 a.m.

KAMLOOPS – Interior Health has sent letters to approximately 9,000 patients who underwent endoscopic (scoping) procedures at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops between March 6, 2008, and July 15, 2010, notifying them that the scopes used in their procedures may not have received full disinfection.

An endoscope is a long flexible tube used by specially-trained physicians to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Endoscopes are equipped with lighting and a camera that allows for the viewing of a patient’s GI system. Depending on the procedure, endoscopes are passed through either a patient’s esophagus or colon. The procedures potentially affected by this circumstance were colonoscopy and therapeutic gastroscopy. Colonoscopy involves examination of the colon while gastroscopy is an examination of the small intestine, stomach and esophagus.

The risk of infection transmission to patients is extremely low – between one in one million and one in ten million. No further testing is being recommended for patients, however, Interior Health has taken the precautionary step to inform patients in the interest of transparency.

“We believe that patients would want to have this information even if, as in this case, the risk is extremely low. Additionally, we have an ethical responsibility to inform them,” said Dr. Jeremy Etherington, IH’s Vice-President for Medicine and Quality.

The majority of these patients live in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region.

During a review of practices in July, Interior Health discovered an issue in the reprocessing of endoscopes. This was related to the incompatibility of equipment used in the disinfection of endoscopes in a designated area within the Ambulatory Care Unit – not within the Medical Device Reprocessing Department. Other Interior Health hospitals were not affected as the equipment used in other locations differs.

After meticulous manual cleaning, endoscopes are placed in an automated washer for disinfection, one of the final steps in reprocessing. While manufacturer instructions were being followed for the disinfectant machine, a portion of the scope was not receiving high level disinfection. A further review found tubing used for both the endoscope procedure itself and for assisting with washing and disinfection was not compatible with the disinfection washer used by the hospital. Interior Health has reported this information to the separate equipment manufacturers and to Health Canada.

“As soon as we became aware of this situation, Royal Inland immediately changed the incompatible piece of equipment used for disinfection of scopes, and we began a process of review to understand the potential risk to patients,” said Etherington. “We consulted with internal and external experts, and commissioned a thorough review by an external medical microbiologist. And finally, when we understood the nature of risk to patients, we sought advice from clinical ethicists on the matter of disclosure.”

Following evaluation, Interior Health is confident the risk of infection from this situation is extremely remote, and believes there is NO need for specific patient testing, treatment or follow-up.

“Manual cleaning is considered to be the most significant step in minimizing the risk of infection upon reuse of a scope. Through review and evaluation by the external medical microbiologist, we are confident our manual cleaning processes were conducted to a high standard which minimizes the risk to patients,” said Dr. Etherington.

Though the risk to patients is extremely low, Interior Health recognizes patients may have follow-up questions and has established a phone line for this purpose. Staff will be answering calls Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and monitoring voicemail messages after hours. The number to call is

1-877-442-2001 (toll free).

In addition, further information is available through Interior Health’s website, at www.interiorhealth.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

New year, new decade, old habits?

Five things you should stop doing in 2020

North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Ambassadors report in

Hello! Haille Johnson and Jonathan Fennell here, your North Thompson Fall Fair… Continue reading

Clearwater Winter Fest offers range of activities from Jan. 17 to 26

Clearwater’s Winter Fest is set to begin and will offer a range… Continue reading

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read