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SEATTLE – (March 9, 2015) – Virginia Mason is sharing its innovative new process for cleaning duodenoscopes with all hospitals and providers that request it, and the organization has posted information about its method online at

“Patient safety is our top priority,” said Andrew Ross, MD, section chief, Gastroenterology.

The duodenoscope is a special endoscope used in the medical procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). This procedure combines upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and X-rays to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. Virginia Mason is among the nation’s highest-volume ERCP providers.

Virginia Mason implemented its new process for achieving high-level disinfection of duodenoscopes in early 2014 after determining that adhering to the device manufacturer’s guidelines did not ensure a reliable cleaning process in every case.

In addition to following the manufacturer’s guidelines for manual cleaning, Virginia Mason also tests each scope for harmful bacteria and places every scope in quarantine for 48 hours. The scopes are used in medical procedures only after culturing indicates there is no harmful bacteria on the instruments.

“By testing and quarantining all scopes until a negative culture is confirmed, we are using an infection control and safety approach that goes above and beyond what is recommended by the scope manufacturer,” Dr. Ross said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning, acknowledging the duodenoscope’s design makes the device difficult to clean and disinfect even when the manufacturer’s guidelines are carefully followed. Link to FDA Safety Communication:

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website:

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Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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