This random survey was to determine the flexible nasopharyngoscope disinfection practice employed by South African otolaryngologists and to establish whether a breach in the disinfection process exists. The study also aimed to identify organisms most likely to be transmitted via endoscopy and to propose a protocol for the disinfection of the flexible nasopharyngoscope.
A questionnaire regarding disinfection techniques used for the flexible nasopharyngoscope was sent to 90 otolaryngologists in South Africa. All provinces were equally represented in the survey.
Forty-five otolaryngologists out of a total of 90 participated in the study. Many of the otolaryngologists had no access to a flexible nasopharyngoscope and were therefore not included in the study. Fewer than 50 per cent of the 45 surgeons washed the instrument with soap/detergent and water after use. Only 42 per cent of surgeons used a FDA-approved disinfectant, 52 per cent of which immersed the scope for a shorter period than the recommended contact time. Of the 58 per cent using non-FDA-approved products, 33 per cent used only a 70 per cent Isopropyl alcohol wipe, without immersion of the scope in disinfectant solution. The remaining 25 per cent used non-FDA-approved disinfectants either by wiping or limited immersion of the scope. Of the 45 surgeons, 49 per cent used a different method of disinfection for high-risk patients.
Strict guidelines have been proposed for the disinfection of this semi-critical device by the Association of Professionals for Infection Control (APIC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These guidelines are currently not being followed by many South African otolaryngologists. There is therefore a real risk of transmitting infectious diseases, especially tuberculosis, via endoscopy.