Ongoing education keeps awareness up, costs down

Dissecting an endoscope to see what the interior components looked like was fun for the staff at Green Spring Station Endoscopy in Lutherville, MD. More importantly, it was educational and the perfect first step in the same-day surgery program’s effort to improve handling and care of scopes to reduce the cost of repair.

"We knew we had to keep our educational programs interesting in order to keep everyone aware of how to handle scopes safely," says Helen Rolf, RN, BSN, nurse manager of the program. Education continued after the initial presentation with reports on repair costs at each staff meeting.

"I also have our repair vendor return damaged parts to me, and I place them on the bulletin board or take them to staff meetings and ask employees to guess how much the repair to that part cost," says Rolf. "They come to me with estimates that vary widely, and they are usually blown away when I tell them the actual cost."

Rolf says that this simple activity keeps everyone aware of scope damage and makes it is easier for everyone to remember safe handling procedures.

You also can reduce the amount of downtime associated with repairs for wear and tear by making sure you have the proper number of scopes for your program, says Keicha R. Schipa, senior territory manager of Integrated Medical Systems, a medical equipment repair company in Birmingham, AL. "Data from our company’s experience show that the optimum use of a scope is between 0.75 and 1.25 uses per day," she explains. "This means that you should have 20 scopes if you perform 600 procedures each month."

By making sure you have enough scopes, you reduce the damage on each scope and give yourself enough time to perform the proper maintenance, Schipa points out.

Because overuse of scopes increases the amount of damage on the equipment, Rolf also has her GI techs monitoring use of each scope to make sure they are used equally. "Physicians want to use the newest scopes, but it is important to share the wear and tear among all the scopes," she says. The scope utilization tracking information is shared with staff and physicians.

Rolf’s repair vendor also provides monthly reports on repair costs and types of damage to scopes that Green Spring Station experiences. "These reports help me identify the types of educational programs we need to address handling problems we have and to make the programs timely," she explains.

Educational assistance and help in identifying your specific needs is an important service that your scope repair vendor should offer, Rolf adds.

"In addition to doing your normal due diligence as you check out vendors, be sure to look for someone who can help you solve some of your problems as well as repair your scopes," she says. (For a partial list of scope repair vendors, see resources, below.)


For more information about improving same-day surgery program performance, contact:

  • Luke M. Lambert, Chief Executive Officer, Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America, 15 Farrar Farm Road, Suite 2, Norwell, MA 02061. Phone: (866) 982-7262 or (781) 659-0422. Fax: (781) 659-0434. E-mail:
  • Michael Sawyer, Administrator, Santa Barbara Surgical Center, 3045 De La Vina St., Santa Barbara, CA 93105. Phone: (805) 569-3226. E-mail: