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Safety, ergonomics are essential in the endoscopy suite for patients and providers alike

Jennifer A. Christie, MD
Jennifer A. Christie, MD

A safe and comfortable environment is essential in the endoscopy suite, not only for patients but also for endoscopists and staff members, according to Jennifer A. Christie, MD, associate professor of medicine, clinical director of gastroenterology and director of gastrointestinal motility at Emory School of Medicine, Atlanta.

“Many endoscopists can spend 50 percent or more of their time on any given day performing procedures in the endoscopy suite,” she said. “With that in mind, it’s important to consider the ergonomics of the suite design and the availability of appropriate safety equipment for the physician and his or her staff.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Christie will co-moderate the ASGE Clinical Symposium Endoscopy Is a Contact Sport: Protecting Yourself in the Endoscopy Unit. David Robbins, MD, assistant professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine and associate chief of endoscopy at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, will co-moderate the symposium.

Dr. Christie said endoscopists need to be cautious of the potential for musculoskeletal injury, for example, because endoscopists put a lot of strain on their wrists and thumbs when maneuvering the endoscope, and also because they spend so much time standing, which can produce strain on the back, knees and hips.

“We have to be very conscious of our posture as well as the techniques we are using as we navigate our endoscope, and we should try to reduce the amount of strain we put on our bodies,” she said. “There are a lot of things we have to be aware of, such as making sure the space is large enough for all the equipment we use so that we’re not feeling constrained and uncomfortable in our own work environment.”

Dr. Christie said endoscopists also must have the appropriate protective clothing and equipment to guard against exposure to radiation and exposure to body fluids.

“For gastroenterologists who perform advanced procedures, such as ERCP, it’s particularly important that the appropriate lead gowns and thyroid shields are available and are of high quality, and that the staff continuously monitor their radiation exposure,” she said. “Protective clothing must shield the endoscopist and the team against splashes and exposure to body fluid. Good protective equipment is available, but we must make sure people use it and use it correctly.”

The critical point is that endoscopists should constantly be aware of the steps they can take to improve the functionality and the safety of their workspaces.

“It’s the role of the endoscopist to be the leader in this and make sure everyone is protected and everyone uses the appropriate equipment,” Dr. Christie said. “The endoscopist has to protect himself or herself by taking the best safety precautions and practicing good endoscopic technique so that we can continue to provide the best care for our patients while taking care of ourselves, our trainees and our staff.”

The session’s presenters include Amandeep K. Shergill, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of endoscopy at the VA Medical Center, San Francisco; Subhas Banerjee, MD, AGAF, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA; Rajesh N. Keswani, MD, associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; and John L. Petrini, MD, of the Sansum Clinic’s Pueblo Multi-Specialty Clinic, Santa Barbara, CA.

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the Program section in Tuesday’s DDW Daily News for the time and location of this and other DDW® events.

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