Infection Control Today

SEP 2018

ICT delivers to infection preventionists & their colleagues in the operating room, sterile processing/central sterile, environmental services & materials management, timely & relevant news, trends & information impacting the profession & the industry

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20 ICT September 2018 www.infectioncontroltoday.com Industry Roundtable: Healthcare Laundry I nfec tion Control Today invited the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) and TRSA to address pertinent issues in healthcare laundry relating to infection prevention and control; here are their perspectives. ICT: What are the knowledge gaps around healthcare laundry-related infection prevention that persist? There remains a tendency among some infection preventionists (IPs) to reduce to a singular activity the safeguard that ensures hygienic healthcare textiles (HCTs) for every patient in the hospital; that is, they see it as laundering alone, as in the task of "doing the laundry." Nothing could be further from the truth. The use of reusable HCTs is a circular process. This process includes specifi c procedures: laundering, transportation to the healthcare facility, storage and distribution within the hospital, placement (but not storage) of the HCTs in a patient or treatment room, removal and placement into a soiled linen bin after use, transportation to the soiled linen depot at the hospital, and loading and transportation back to the healthcare laundry. When the process is overlooked or shortchanged, things can fall apart. This is especially true with matters after the wash process. For example, healthcare laundries accredited by the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) are in the business of ensuring that HCTs are processed and delivered to their partners in a hygienically clean manner. But once they've arrived from the laundry to the healthcare setting, that integrity needs to be maintained. In fact, maintenance is as important to quality patient outcomes as is the organization's commitment to practicing proper hand hygiene. HCTs should not and cannot be viewed with a lesser concern than other healthcare interventions. — Gregory Gicewicz, president of Sterile Surgical Systems; past-president and inspection committee chair for Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) There will always be knowledge gaps about laundry because cleaning technologies w ill continu e to improve. L in en and uniform services will be fi rst to implement improvements successfully and then other stakeholders will need to learn about them. Perhaps our most visible example of this involves California law, where healthcare laundry cycles are specifi ed to be 24 minutes long at 160 degrees F. This rule was in force before development of wash chemistries of equal or greater effectiveness at lower temperatures. Recently, the state legislature has taken steps to change this rule so we are confident their knowledge gap will close. The need to close knowledge gaps is evident when laundry certifi cation inspection protocols become unwieldy. Business technology improvements frequently provide alternative means to accomplish the same end; in this case, laundry hygiene. Lack of understanding of this fl exibility can result feature in an excessively long list of inspection requirements that can't be covered in an inspec tor's daylong assessment of a laundry. Focusing on mandatory best practices that incorporate a variety of techniques that maximizes hygiene makes for a robust inspection and microbiological testing of clean textiles from the end of the laundry production line quantifi es product cleanliness. This combination of process and outcome measures has long been practiced by the industry across the globe and is catching on here. — Joseph Ricci, president and CEO, TRSA ICT: What are some ways to improve infection prevention awareness relating to healthcare textiles? For the IP, improving awareness is all about good communications and we see three messages worth spreading that are relevant to healthcare textiles: • While outbreaks of infectious diseases associated with laundered HCTs are extremely rare (there have been only 13 outbreaks over the past 40 years attributed to laundered, clean HCTs), when they do happen, they can affect not only the lives and safety of patients and staff but a facility's reputation and fi nancial health. To maintain the quality and cleanliness of processed HCTs for use in a clinical setting, it is worthwhile to have an awareness of when and where, and

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