Top 6 Errors and Oversights in Vaginal Exams That Are Caused by Bad Equipment
While being a routine procedure, vaginal exams may result in complications. Errors and oversights caused by bad equipment aren’t uncommon. Something as basic as a speculum could become the cause of unfortunate consequences.
With high-quality pelvic exam equipment available on the market today, many clinics still prefer using traditional tools. Let’s go over several problems that may occur due to a poor choice of equipment.
1. Extreme Discomfort During Vaginal Exams
Many women try to avoid pelvic exams and Pap tests because they are highly uncomfortable. The embarrassment of being naked is complimented by the pain and discomfort of an inserted speculum.
The traditional metal speculum comes with a variety of seriously underestimated issues. The cold surgical steel adds to the discomfort and keeps the patient from relaxing, thus making the pelvic exam difficult. Meanwhile, the doctor faces cleaning and disinfecting the tool after examining each patient.
While plastic specula aren’t as cold as their traditional counterparts are, they can be harder to insert and remove, thus causing extra discomfort. A plastic speculum clicks when locked in position, distressing the patient.
Avoid the sound by lifting the lock with a thumb. Meanwhile, the newest click-free plastic speculum models can help eliminate the sound entirely.
2. Wrong Size
The size of the specula can also be an issue. A large tool may cause pain or damage the vaginal lining. A smaller instrument may not allow the gynecologist to see the problem or hinder Pap smear manipulations.
Set industry standards for specula size are non-existent. Each manufacturer chooses its own categorization parameters. Doctors are advised to “select a bivalve speculum of suitable size”. Which size is suitable? It may be tough to tell simply by looking. Meanwhile, inserting one instrument and figuring out it doesn’t fit causes extra discomfort.
Vaginal length can vary from 40 to 125 mm while vaginal width can be between 18 and 65 mm. Speculum size affects the patient’s anxiety level, pelvic wall integrity, and the history of sexual trauma.
3. Risks of Infection
Traditional metal specula undergo a harsh disinfection process. However, with time, extensive sterilization may stop producing sufficient results.
According to a study published in the Health, Disease, and Health Journal, formidable protein deposits appeared on multiply processed surgical stainless steel instruments. Even though the tools were sterilized by moist heat, the traces of biofilm were found on 50% of them.
Older instruments can also have microscopic damage, creating an environment for the growth of bacteria and contamination. While further research is required to determine the lifespan of specula, the risks of infecting the patient are present.
Meanwhile, harsh chemicals used to disinfect metal specula could also be harmful. Non-metal parts of the instrument could absorb the chemicals and put the patient at risk.
Improper sterilization and disinfection of metal specula pose a risk of cross-infecting patients during pelvic exams.
Single-use plastic specula eliminate the risk of cross-infection while saving time and allowing the doctor to focus on other issues.
The outcome of a pelvic examination heavily depends on the equipment. Without clear access, a doctor is likely to miss the warning signs of a disease, infection or other conditions. Meanwhile, bad equipment can interfere with the Pap smear, producing wrong results.
Poor lighting is one of the major issues with traditional speculum. Unless the instrument has a built-in lighting feature, the gynecologist has to juggle several instruments at once. If a speculum isn’t large enough to provide a clear view, it’s easy to miss a problem.
Taking advantage of a properly sized plastic speculum with a lighting feature can reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis. Meanwhile, such tools simplify the doctor’s job, thus reducing the time spent on the pelvic exam.
Misdiagnosis may depend on many different factors. The equipment shouldn’t be one of them. Failing to identify the cause of a problem during the routine pelvic exam may lead to unnecessary manipulations and further mistakes.
Hurting a patient with a speculum isn’t uncommon. And it doesn’t always depend on the professionalism of the ob-gyn performing the exam. Traditional specula may have a poorly designed handle, making both insertion and extraction of the instrument hurtful for the patient.
Even though serious injuries are unlikely to happen, the pain associated with the speculum use may prevent patients from visiting the doctor the next time.
The speculum handle attached at the right angle doesn’t just make an exam less stressful for the patient but allows the doctor to achieve a better reach and view.
When the instrument is easy to insert and extract, the gynecologist can focus on the examination rather than on the best possible way to wield the tool to avoid creating discomfort for the patient.
6. Misplaced Instruments
When a doctor is faced with using poor equipment, such errors as misplaced instruments can occur. While the patient’s comfort is highly important, the doctor’s convenience shouldn’t be overlooked.
Without a high-quality speculum, a gynecologist needs to juggle several instruments and worry about their regular sterilization. The time and effort needed to complete a pelvic exam without the proper equipment can increase substantially.
Misplaced instruments could lead to agitation and frustration, thus keeping the doctor from making timely decisions. Meanwhile, it could increase the time patients spend in the examination chair, thus increasing their level of discomfort.
Using High-Quality Equipment to Prevent Errors During Vaginal Exams
Bad pelvic exam equipment can lead to numerous errors, patients’ discomfort, frustration, and inconvenience. Common problems linked to poorly designed specula include extra pain, misdiagnosis, injury, and infection.
At obp, we have a wide variety of specula to suit the needs of your medical practice. Our lighted single-use plastic instruments, HER-SPEC Single-Use Click-Free Lighted Vaginal Speculum and ER-SPEC Single-Use Lighted Vaginal Speculum can improve the quality of pelvic exams performed by your team.
Contact us at any convenient time to learn more about our revolutionary products.