Study: Facial Protection Helps Reduce Risk of Infection for Endoscopists

The results of a new study indicate that endoscopists and assisting staff who do not wear facial protection during procedures are at an elevated risk for exposure to blood and body fluids which could lead to infections.

The research, published in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, was conducted over a six-month period and involved four gastroenterologists who performed 1,100 procedures in 239 endoscopy sessions. The physicians wore face shields during the sessions, with the shields swabbed before and at the end of the session to determine the number of colony-forming units (CFU). Controls included swabs of face shields placed on the endoscopy suite wall, remote patient intake bay wall and following intentional contamination with a colonoscope immediately after a colonoscopy. 

Researchers found that the CFU rate in the pre-endoscopy groups was significantly lower than the post-endoscopist face shield and endoscopy suite wall groups. They noted that "… exposure may result in transmission of infectious diseases. As such, we recommend the use of universal facial protection during GI endoscopy."

One of the researchers, Asif Khalid, MD, told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease, "While endoscopy staff discard used gloves and gowns, and wash hands after performing endoscopy, we doubt colleagues that do not use face shields wash their faces in between cases. Inadvertently touching our face and then patients may serve to spread pathogenic bacteria between patients."

Access the research here.