In our last post, we discussed the ambiguous label of “hygienically clean” and why it's not to be trusted. Now, we want to explore the better alternative and how to determine whether your medical scrubs, hospital gowns and healthcare linens are being effectively cleaned.
When you partner with a medical laundry service, it's sometimes difficult to know what you're getting. With patient safety and satisfaction on the line, your medical facility should settle for nothing but the best. Use the following guidelines to find a professional partner to clean and sanitize your hospital linens.
When choosing a medical laundry service partner, it's important to start by verifying its claims. As we mentioned previously, “hygienically clean” is an unclear (if not meaningless) term – especially without documentation to back it up.
First, make sure the laundry service is able to define and explain its processes. You should request proof that the service adheres to its own standards and meets all industry criteria.
But don’t stop there. Request third-party independent laboratory results to prove the efficacy of their sanitization procedures. If you need assistance understanding the lab results, make sure the laundry service provides adequate answers to your questions. Explore the protocols behind the laboratory testing to make sure the service’s claims are valid.
Once you have this documentation, make sure it's displayed in plain view of your patients. You've taken time to find a truly effective medical laundry service, so you should use it to your advantage: Knowing your hospital gowns and linens are clean and sanitized puts your patients at ease.
Industry Credentials And Certifications
Currently, two key certifications exist for medical laundry service providers to attain:
- TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare Certification
The Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) provides its own certification program, which requires medical laundry service companies to operate under best management practices (BMPs). This includes third-party bacteriological testing and facility inspections. TRSA does not dictate the BMPs, washing process or chemicals used, but it does require that whatever protocols the laundry service implements are documented and practiced, including quality control procedures.
- HLAC Accreditation
The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council has its own certification for sanitation of medical scrubs and hospital gowns. This accreditation covers the complete textile processing cycle, from handling and transportation of soiled healthcare laundry to in-plant processing and delivery back to the medical facility. HLAC’s standards also cover many basic considerations, such as facility layout, personnel training and customer service, with special attention directed toward OSHA-required practices.
It isn't easy to remove tough pathogens from your medical scrubs, hospital gowns and linens. Many of the bacteria that cause serious illness are gram-positive, meaning they're equipped with a protective coating that makes them impenetrable to many medications and cleansers. You need specially designed chemicals, and medical laundry service providers have access to detergents that destroy 99.999% of pathogens.
Make sure your laundry service uses high-efficacy detergents that strip the protective coat off the bacteria and kill them (or prevent them from growing and multiplying). This effectively eliminates the ability of bacteria and viruses to spread and contaminate your medical facility.
Once hospital gowns and medical scrubs are cleaned and sanitized, they aren’t suddenly in a vacuum. These garments are still exposed to the dangerous pathogens on all surfaces in your medical facility and beyond, so effective infection prevention needs to go a step beyond high-efficacy detergents.
Your medical laundry service should be applying a bacteriostatic shield to all your hospital gowns, linens and medical scrubs. These protectants inhibit bacteria and other pathogens from adhering to the garment and proliferating. Without this extra step, your once-clean hospital gowns become contaminated as soon as they enter your medical facility.
When it comes to medical scrubs, hospital gowns and linens, it's important to realize that “hygienically clean” is simply not enough. You need your hospital linens to be sanitized by a dedicated, high-quality professional medical laundry service. Your patients' comfort and safety are worth it.
To learn more about high-quality medical scrubs, linens and gowns, contact the experts at ImageFIRST. Call 1.800.408.0370 or click the link below to download an informative, free whitepaper.