Maintaining “Sanitized” Medical Laundry With Healthy Internal Processes

Posted by Joe Geraghty on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 @ 02:00 PM

dr lab coatTo thwart the attacks of harmful immune invaders, like the bacteria present in HAIs, you use a medical laundry service that takes your soiled linens, cleans them and returns them to your facility. But how clean are the medical scrubs, gowns and linens you're getting back? And are you preserving the sanitizing of your medical laundry with the appropriate internal processes? 

Hygienically Clean Versus Sanitized

If your medical laundry service claims to ensure hygienically clean medical scrubs and hospital linens, it may be necessary to reconsider your partnership. The term "hygienically clean" carries no solid definition and provides little value to medical facility personnel and patients who rely on having clean, pathogen-free linens.

Your best solution is to find a professional laundry service that sanitizes your scrubs and linens. The EPA sets a clear, concise and measureable definition as to what constitutes “sanitized.” It means that a 99.9% reduction of bacteria has been achieved. And, in order to effectively prevent the spread of HAIs in your facility, this is how your linens should be returned to you by your laundry service.

When Sanitizing Is Sidelined

Even the most streamlined sanitizing process goes awry when facilities and staff don’t practice the proper internal methods to preserve medical linen and scrub sanitizing. Once a batch of sanitized medical laundry is delivered to your facility, it is once again subject to bacteria and airborne pathogens.

To protect patients and staff, you need to do everything in your power to avoid the direct transference of these pathogens to the clean linens. This includes obvious prevention techniques, like implementing an effective inventory process and working with a professional healthcare laundry service, but there are also some specific practices your facility should be avoiding.

  • Home Laundering

If your uniforms are not always properly stocked and finding clean scrubs in the correct size seems to be an impossible mission, your staff may be smuggling scrubs out of the facility to wash at home. Given all of the harmful pathogens affecting those linens, home washing is a dangerous habit. It doesn’t sanitize scrubs effectively.

When members of your staff take uniforms home to be washed, they are not killing the harmful bacteria embedded in those linens. Standard detergent is too weak for the germs that live in healthcare facilities. If home-washed scrubs are worn back to work, it only perpetuates the risk of infection.

  • Infrequent Lab Coat Swaps

Have a process in place that regulates frequent changing of lab coats. In every patient’s room are different bacteria, which have the potential to latch onto any exposed material – including lab coats.

To avoid the transfer of various bacteria, make sure your doctors are tossing their lab coats into the laundry after each day and picking up a fresh, unsoiled one the next work day.

  • Scrubs On Breaks

When members of your staff go outside to take a lunch break or have a cigarette, they must remove their scrubs beforehand, or cover up.  Many facilities provide – and enforce the use of – warm-up jackets to prevent staff members from bringing outside contamination into the facility.

It’s important for healthcare directors to first understand the differences between hygienically clean and sanitizing standards – and then partner with a laundry service that knows its way around proper sanitizing procedures, and helps to implement safer practices within your facility.

To learn more about high-quality medical scrubs, linens and gowns, contact the experts at ImageFIRST. We’re dedicated to providing you with exceptional medical laundry services to suit your needs so that you’re free to focus on running your facility and keeping your patients safe and comfortable. You take care of your patients; let us take care of your linens. Call 1.800.408.0370 or click the link below to contact us.

3 Critical Steps To Ensure Clean And Safe Healthcare Laundry