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Are Your Surgical Linens Clean Enough?

  • October 01, 2018
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  • Crown Healthcare

Are Your Surgical Linens Clean Enough

Fact: Surgical and healthcare linens carry the risk of transferring healthcare associated infections (HAIs). Even the most conscientious cleaning and sanitizing of facilities and surfaces does not completely eliminate the risk of surgical and other medical linens being prime carriers of dangerous pathogens. What additional safeguards do you have in place for your linens against these harmful HAIs?

What are Healthcare Associated Infections?

Healthcare Associated Infections, or HAIs, cover a wide range of infections that patients acquire while receiving medical and/or surgical care. During invasive procedures, patients are exposed to different infections including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, infections on the site of surgery, urinary tract infections associated with catheter insertions, and Clostridium difficile which is associated with the mishandling of soiled linens.

C. difficile spores are particularly challenging as they are immune to common surface disinfecting methods and substances and the spores can spread even after the symptoms of infection have vanished.

Medical Standards for the Cleanliness of Surgical Linens

The biggest culprit in hospital cross-contaminations related to surgical linens lies mainly in the mishandling of the soiled linens. Standards on healthcare linen hygiene, such as the standards set by OSHA, define contaminated laundry as any laundry that has been soiled with blood or other infectious materials (i.e. bodily fluids). They may also include healthcare and surgical linens that have been exposed to sharps (i.e. used syringes).

There are four main parts of OSHA standards in handling contaminated linens:

  • Handling. This includes removing contaminated linens from beds and contaminated garments from wearers. It is important to avoid agitating the garments and the linens to prevent the pathogens from becoming airborne and being spread through vents. Proper handling of contaminated surgical linens likewise includes that said garments do not come into contact with any other surface nor are in direct contact with the body of the handlers. Proper protective gear is required.
  • Packaging. To prevent the contaminated linens from getting into contact with other surfaces, contaminated linens must be packaged in appropriate bags. This makes sure that wet and soiled linens do not leak or seep through.
  • Labeling. OSHA has created proper labeling standards for bags of soiled laundry. This step is not only crucial in preventing cross-contamination between linens but is also a key step in protecting laundry personnel from getting exposed to soiled linens that may contain sharps or expose them to bloodborne pathogens and other harmful pathogens.
  • Transporting and Sorting. The major precautions in handling surgical linens, with the aim of preventing the spread of HAIs, also includes proper transporting and sorting protocol. Properly bagged and sealed soiled linens must be isolated from other linens during transportation and sorting at the facility.

How to Achieve Clean and Sanitary Surgical Linens

The right medical linen service provider takes care of the transporting and sorting, as well as the entirety of the laundry process that the linens go through.

The ideal linen service provider should not only understand the guidelines set by the OSHA and other similar bodies, but is also accredited by a recognized body like the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council. The HLAC is a specialized inspection and accreditation body for laundry companies specializing in the processing of reusable healthcare linens such as surgical linens.

With an HLAC accreditation, patients and medical professionals alike get the guarantee that their linen service provider follows industry-approved, safe, and sanitary procedures in the sorting and washing of the linens.

The ideal medical linen specialist also understands the importance of proper packaging and transportation of clean laundry from their plants back to the healthcare facility – ensuring that these clean linens do not get into contact nor are exposed to contaminants from soiled linens.

Crown: The Healthcare Linen Specialist

Ensuring the hygiene and safety of surgical and other healthcare linens is a long, complex process but it’s easily achievable with the help of the right linen service partner. Entrust your surgical linen care to Crown Healthcare!

Our facility and personnel are dedicated to the care and maintenance of healthcare linens. We abide by the strictest standards set for the laundering of medical linens and ensure that our operations are efficient and convenient from pick-up to delivery.

Learn more about our laundry process, quality control system, and about what we can do for your surgical linens and the rest of your healthcare linens. Contact us at 1-844-383-7500 today!

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