To audit out-of-hours flexible endoscope disinfection practice in England and compare the findings with a previously published first audit cycle, with the 2005 ENT UK guidelines as the key intervention.
A telephone survey of the 104 ENT units in England was conducted out-of-hours, replicating the first cycle. The on-call clinician answered questions concerning access to flexible endoscopes, training, disinfection procedures and record keeping. Information regarding the clinician's trainee grade and their cross-covering duties was also acquired. Responses were compared to the first cycle results and published guidance.
In total, 72 of the 104 units agreed to participate. The on-call clinician cleaned the flexible endoscope in 43 per cent of units. However, adequate training in disinfection only occurred in a minority of units (37 per cent), though this was an improvement from the first cycle (12 per cent). Furthermore, 27 per cent of units used an inadequate method of disinfection out-of-hours. One confounding factor may be the increase in cross-cover out-of-hours, with 68 per cent of respondents covering one or more other specialties.
An overall moderate improvement in the safety of out-of-hours endoscopy in the past 10 years cannot obscure the urgent need for universal compliance with national guidelines.