Hospital textile management: When clean is just not enough

FMnewsroom – textile management. Patients, as well as those who provide care, when entering healthcare facilities seek safe, high-quality care. A hospital’s infection prevention is heavily attributable to sanitary linen and textile management as these items are among the main agents of infection transmission. But how best and safest to handle these textiles to avoid complications with far reaching effects?

In-house textile maintenance: What to consider?

Some hospitals choose to handle all their linens internally. This approach can be successful, but only if the on-premise laundry is well-managed and can guarantee the same level of hygiene as external professional services provide – as Encompass points out, adding: Many hospitals have found that washing and maintaining their own textiles can be cost-prohibitive, time-consuming, and ineffectual.

In addition, in-house textile maintenance and storage may generate an opportunity for contamination of clean linens. (For hospitals it’s highly important to consider location, cart covering, traffic patterns with healthcare personnel and visitors, the number of linens on a cart or how often a cart supply is being refreshed.)

The spread of COVID-19 and the incidence of HAIs (hospital acquired infection) has increased patient awareness of hospital cleanliness. Patients who have a choice may also want to know the hospital’s infection prevention and control record – which is partially attributable to sanitary linens.

Clean is not enough – HAIs run a high cost

By outsourcing linen supply and laundering healthcare facilities can make patient care the centre of their attention. Ensuring not only clean but hygienically clean linen and textiles is of the utmost importance when it comes to healthcare surroundings, claims Lindström’s Aniruddha Banerjee.

Hygienically Clean linen means both: Hygienic - pathogen elimination; and Clean – inorganic removal, attractive appearance.

As per WHO, of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed countries and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection. The annual financial losses due to healthcare-associated infections are also significant: they are estimated at approximately €7 billion in Europe, (including direct costs only and reflecting 16 million extra days of hospital stay), and at about US $6.5 billion in the USA – Banerjee quotes.

Viruses can survive up to 3 days on healthcare linen

Healthcare linen is known to harbour a number of microorganisms. Most notably, there is an increased concern that methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) can survive for days on linen. There is further concern that this contaminated linen then becomes a potential source of cross-contamination.

Research led by microbiologist Dr. Katie Laird, the head of the Infectious Disease Research Group shows coronavirus can survive on healthcare uniforms for three days. The results showed that polyester poses the highest risk of transmission of the virus, with infectious virus still present after 3. On 100% cotton, the virus lasted for 24 hours, while on polycotton, the virus only survived for six hours.

Textile management cannot be taken lightly

It is incumbent upon each facility to ensure that hygienically clean textiles delivered by the partner laundry remain clean once they are delivered to the facility. As Aniruddha Banerjee simply puts: once textiles are removed from a clean-linen cart or storage room and taken into a patient room, they are considered contaminated.

For maximum safety hospitals must have a policy and procedure to deal with the transportation and storage of clean and contaminated textiles as well. Whether textiles come from an accredited laundry plant or an on-premises laundry, ensuring hygienically clean textiles from processing, distribution and on to patient use cannot be taken lightly.

Outsourced textile management: What to expect?

Considering all duties in connection with textile management in a hospital, no wonder why most facilities outsource their laundry and linen maintenance. Instead of allocating resources to secure proper hygienical cleaning, collecting, distributing, storage, maintenance and administration of the different textiles, professionals can focus on the core task of healing and institutions can minimize the risk of HAIs at the same time.

When an institute outsources its healthcare textile management to experts it can count on hygienically clean linen, in stock and on time as well as on-demand availability and production. A professional partner can help with tech-based solutions for overseeing product life-cycle, stock optimization and inventory management along with eco-efficient washing and end-of-life textile recycling, all with transparent pricing.



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