Hospital acquired infection with colonoscopy?

JamieJanuary 15, 2014

I'm on the CDC website and they categorize these according to the vehicle of transmission (as opposed to categorizing by bug/virus type).

The transmission vehicles they list are central line catheter, urinary catheter, surgical site, and ventilator.

They do then put C.Diff by itself without regard to how you get it.

My question concerns colonoscopy. Are you risking HIA with colonoscopy? Seems like you would? A particular one?

I have no health care background and am chicken/paranoid.

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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I doubt it is common. C. difficile is often from being on antibiotics long term that allows C. diff to eventually flourish.

Others like central line, urinary catheter and ventilator are often due to the long term nature of them. If a urinary catheter is in for a long time, that is what increases the risk of infection. They used to be left in for too long but that is less common now. Ventilators likewise are often for a longer term. The other problem is that most of these are in patients who are weakened/debilitated so have less ability to fight off whatever may be present.

If you are looking at a routine colonoscopy, I would not be too concerned. Of course, the best course of action would be to discuss this with the physician performing the procedure.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:22AM
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Well if you have no health background, I'd suggest not thinking the worst first. Try talking to folks who've had this done, most folks are just fine!

While I too have been putting this particular exam off for a while, it's often done outside a hospital (that's how I plan to do mine). If you're so concerned about acquiring hospital borne infection, I'd suggest you do it in private doctor's office OUTSIDE a hospital setting.

Knowledge & self education are far preferable to chicken / paranoid / semi-panic.

Do you have a doctor you trust? Maybe you could ask them some questions (am guessing you'll need a referral for the colonoscopy).

Sorry, but why post a question about colonoscopy at a site about Home Decorating? Not what I'd expect to be really reliable info.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:25AM
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Pardon me, I'm new to this particular site & didn't see when entering it that I was on the Conversation side (even if not medical, it's Conversation); I apologize.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:28AM
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I thought there would be health care providers reading here. I have often found a wealth of off-topic info -- pets, travel, elder care.

I am interested in looking at specific stats. That's why I went to the CDC site.

I was hoping that a health care practitioner here could direct me to a proper search term or site where I could find stats on this, similar to the ones the CDC tracks for catheters.

I like hard core data and information was hoping someone could help me find it. I wasn't intending this to be an emotion or opinion post, but I did want help.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:33AM
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Elraes Miller

Please ignore Pirategirl. This side has had the broadest questions imaginable. You are fine asking the question and yes there are some very responsive health care posters here.

The one thing I will never do again is go to a facility which performs colonoscopies like cattle lined up. The doctor will schedule a full day to do nothing but such. I found the care and procedures so rushed and pressured, the staff taking care of multiple patients at one time. Along with being foggy, the experience left me with little information. No clue what I signed or questions answered since they doped me up prior. My daughter was with me and even she couldn't remember what the heck was happening when. After the procedure they dumped my results on my lap and to this day I believe they were someone elses. With major area of concerns which were not there on a followup 2 weeks later. Think I may still be irked about this experience after 5 years.

I did have a positive experience in a small hospital and would revisit the option. In actuality I think the hospital was cleaner and better staffed. Great care and concern that I knew exactly what to expect along with explanations after. With a great doctor at hand.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

One recent study found dirty instruments in 3 out of 20 instances. Risks would seem to be for HIV, Hep B & C. But the author of the study does say that just because the instruments are not 100% clean doesn't necessarily mean the next patient will get infected.

I would definitely discuss this with the place where you or whoever is going to get this done and specifically raise the issue of the cleanliness of the instruments.

This article lists some of the other risks associated with colonoscopies and finds them low, but it does not address acquired infections.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Colonoscopy risks

This post was edited by AnnieDeighnaugh on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 12:12

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:05PM
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I found the below linked as well. Seems like a disposable scope would be ideal. Wonder if they make one.

Here is a link that might be useful: EndoNurse Journal

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:12PM
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gmatx zone 6

As a retired RN who has worked ICU/CCU, Home Health and Correctional Healthcare, I have never encountered a patient who acquired a nosocomial infection from having a colonoscopy performed. You have a much greater risk of an infection from a cat scratch, ingrown nail or cut cuticle, rose thorn stick, paper cut, a scratch by yours or someone else's fingernail, or many, many more mundane daily life occurrences.

Your risk of undetected colon cancer should be of greater concern to you than the extremely small risk of an infection as the result of having a colonoscopy. This is a cancer that when found prior to metastasizing is highly curable. I have a friend who never had a colonoscopy done, and their first indication that anything was wrong was after it had spread throughout their colon to the point that a colostomy was the only choice if they wanted a chance to live. If found earlier, by a colonoscopy, it is most probable that only a small section of the colon would have been removed and the colostomy would have not been required. As difficult as it might be for you, please put your fear into perspective. Your life is far more important.

As to the poster technicolor who stated that she was so doped up she didn't know what she signed, I really hope your memory is incorrect. To give Informed Consent, we were taught that a person should have full control of their mental faculties and IC should be obtained prior to being given any sedation.

To have disposable equipment would mean that the cost of obtaining a colonoscopy would be prohibitive for anyone other than an extremely wealthy person. I have upon occasion been responsible for preparing medical tools/equipment for sterilizing and autoclaving and can assure you that most personnel who are responsible for this work are conscientious about doing the job correctly. As far as disposable covers for the colonoscopy camera/tube, it is probable the clarity of the camera would be impaired enough that personally I would not want that for my own colonoscopy.

The best approach is to write up your concerns, ask appropriate questions of whoever is doing your colonoscopy, and try to put all the risks in realistic perspective.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Ask your friends! Where did they go? I was very happy with my doctor and the facility that he performs the procedure.
Everything is a risk, you can go crazy researching to every detail.
But as stated above, this procedure is important for those 50 and over.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 2:06PM
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We discuss testing like colonoscopies all the time here since most of us are the age where we or our SO's need them, so don't feel bad for asking.

I had my first screening colonoscopy this summer. I had no symptoms or family history, yet they found a large precancerous polyp. The nurse said I am a good case of why someone needs to get this done. I did go to a hospital, and it was not cheap (partly because my insurance is a grandfathered plan under health care reform so it was not fully covered as many other people would be). I need a re-test sometime this first half of the year just to be sure they got it all and then likely every three years. I know three women who died of colon cancer in their 50's and early 60's, so this is not something to put off. Colon cancer is the #3 cancer death in women, after lung and breast.

Thanks for your perspective, gmatx.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 8:09PM
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I'm the lone (?) Male here!

I'm 52 now, and just had my 1st Colonoscopy in mid-Dec. I just asked my Dr. for a referral, and just did it. No family history or anything. I just wanted to know!
All went well. One small polyp removed. Results showed nothing bad. So....I'm good for a decade they tell me!

Our insurance paid for it too!

Knowledge IS power though. Feels good that nothing is amiss "there".
I don't get wrapped-up in the incredibly few "infection horror-stories". Please. You have a better chance of getting hit by a car tomorrow than something happening at a clinic.

>>> Don't "invent" fears.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:58PM
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Please don't let your fear stop you from having this very important test. Whatever small, minute, tiny risk there is in having the procedure is far outweighed by the risk of not having the test. The sooner you find the cancer, the better your chances of survival.

4.5 year colrectal cancer survivor whose cancer was found during a colonoscopy.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I found this on a blog by Dr. LF Muscarella where he details the risk of infection from colonoscopy:

The risk of infection by a contaminated GI endoscope has been reported to be one in 1.8 million.(1,8,17) A recent study indicates that this risk is approximately one in 3 million.(11) Although the risk of infection during GI endoscopy is very low, it can be reduced even further, and the transmission of all pathogens including HCV prevented, by ensuring that endoscopes are reprocessed in strict accordance with the manufacturerâÂÂs recommendations and published guidelines.(11,17,22-25) Data indicate that published endoscope reprocessing standards and guidelines are adequate, effective and prevent the transmission of all pathogenic microorganisms and viruses that may be encountered in the endoscopic setting.(11,16,17,25-30)

That is extremely small, indeed.

He also states:
With respect to other viruses of clinical concern, during the past ten years only a few reports document the likely transmission of HCV via a contaminated GI endoscope,(17-20) and none was reported in the U.S. Whereas transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) during GI endoscopy is rarely reported,(11,21) there are no reports that document infection of a patient with the feared HIV during GI endoscopy. This very low number of cases of transmission of these viruses suggests the risk of being infected by a GI endoscope contaminated with HBV, HCV, HIV, or HPV is extremely remote.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:40AM
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The only infections I found, researching medical sites, were seldom from medically needed colonoscopy, they were mostly from "cleansing enemas" given by some "detox clinic".

1 - They were NOT cleaning the equipment correctly
2 - They were re-using disposable parts
3 - It was a quack woo-dispensing naturopath's clinic.

In the two cases I found that were from real colonoscopies, it was poor training on how to handle the equipment in a rush-rush clinic setting, and there were fines and loss of licensing and big medical settlements.

I forgot the pathogen, but it was some oddball parasite in one instance (easy to track) and Shigella in another.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:31AM
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Another vote to just DO IT. My DH went for his first one several months ago and they found 11 or 12 polyps, one that is pre-cancerous and because of its location, he's going back tomorrow for a minor surgical procedure to have it removed. No family history and no symptoms, but if he had put the test off for a couple of years, I'm assuming it's likely he would have been diagnosed with cancer.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:58AM
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Retired nurse here too. I wouldn't think twice about getting a colonoscopy (and have).

Not trying to interfere, but Faron...if you had polyps removed I thought you were supposed to have a repeat colonoscopy in five years. Please check this out :-)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:08AM
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It is so generous of you to share your research, experience, and your healthy attitudes. Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 1:39PM
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You seem to have gotten answers on the infection risks so I won't go there, but just some personal experience.
My S.O. and I have had colonoscopies on a regular basis because of pre-cancerous polyps. Our doctor used to do them in a hospital and now does them in an outpatient facility. I couldn't be more impressed with the professionalism and competency of all doctors and staff-plenty of time taken to explain and answer any questions. I can't really say the hospital setting was any more impressive; I think it's more important to research your doctor well. If he/she is really well respected in their field, they probably will choose a facility that reflects the same. I put my first one(colonoscopy) off because of horror stories only to discover they are a very simple, painless procedure. The worst part is the stuff you drink for the colon cleanse!

and Faron I had the same question as red lover?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:04AM
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RL & LG-

Thanks for the kind note!
I double-checked my online provider message-system from our Hospital. It's a pretty cool link/info.-center.

Their report:
The pathology report from your recent colonoscopy showed a hyperplastic polyp, which is a benign tissue growth. The polyp was completely removed, and there was no cancer in the tissue that was removed and studied. Based on the pathology report, a colonoscopy examination is recommended in 10 years.

So there ya go! Literally copied/pasted from my provider-link!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 2:11AM
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Find a reputable doctor, maybe one recommended by your primary care doctor and JUST DO IT!

My father had colorectal cancer at 60 and lived (thankfully) with a colostomy for 26 years. Having a family history I go regularly for the procedure and have so far been "clean".

My husband, OTOH, has no history of colon cancer, but had some symtoms that prompted our doc to recommend a colonoscopy when he was 49. The procedure revealed a large marbelized polyp, which was removed right there. It was biopsied and fortunately was benign.

The gastroenterologist told me that my husband was one of the fortunate ones because it was caught early.

Go have it done. It's not bad and the risks of infections are considerably less than the risk of missing colon cancer.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 7:20AM
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I'm with everyone else. Ask around and get a good recommendation. Then, get it done! It could save your life!

Faron - do have a conversation with your MD. The recommended interval in your case is five years, despite what your report indicates.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:24AM
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How interesting we all seem to agree about Faron going for a repeat in 5 yrs. not 10 (irrespective of the fact of his/her doctor saying she was now good for 10 yrs).

My BFF (40 yrs now) is a nurse & nurse manager. She doesn't do unnecessary medical testing (for herself). She successfully overcame & beat cancer (had her lumpectomy in drs.'s office specifically to avoid hospital borne germs & infections).

She had a colonoscopy 5 yrs. ago & had some polyps removed then & there (3-5, I forget) . But she was definitely told to have a repeat in 5 yrs., matter of fact, the last time I spoke w/ her she was getting ready for the repeat.

She knows my medical history, that this ailment doesn't run in my family (or hers either). Yet when I reminded her I have no symptoms of anything like that, she pointed told me calmly, but factually, that in this disease, by the time one gets symptoms it's too late.

My landlady (of 20+ yrs., also a nurse, in surgical & ICU recovery) has herself had bowel obstructions & intestinal surgery & she pointedly told me to have it done, that it FAR outweighs any risks.

She also suggested I ask 2 things in having it done: lower dosage & split dose. My doc just told me I'll have to make those arrangements w/ the doc performing it.

The thinking seems to be lower volume (less of that gook to drink & excrete); also split dose, half the night before the test, half the morning of the test. Apparently it makes for a cleaner read of the intestines.

I told my doc (who knows I'm resisting) I'll do it w/in the year. He told me he did his & if he can do it, I can do it. Next time I see him I'm going to ask how his went.

So look, here we are ALL reminding you that knowledge is power, just get it done!

Just like I just did my mammogram, only delay was it's usually heck to get it scheduled. It's over & done w/ for another 2 yrs., I'm guessing. Just waiting for the results (I expect a clean result).

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:17PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Practical advice for getting it done...keep a jar of petroleum jelly handy, use it often and early. During the day-before cleanse, your bottom will get very sore from all the wiping and the acids in the material coming out. The prep is far worse than the actual test.

And if you're like me you'll be swearing you never ate the volume of food that comes's amazing how much material is in our gut.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:15PM
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