Hospitals are filled with many different objects and surfaces. This means that there are several different touch points for patients when they are staying in a hospital room. It is easy for surfaces and objects to collect bacteria or germs, which means that it is incredibly important that the area is properly cleaned and taken care of before the next patient stays in that room. If things are not properly taken care of, there is a very high risk that there will be the spread of disease and viruses.
Surfaces are pretty easy to disinfect, which means countertops, tables, bed rails and bathrooms can be wiped down with a disinfectant pretty quickly and easily to keep things clean, but one item some might not think about is the linens. Bed linens and towels should also be properly taken care of in order to stop the spread of germs and bacteria. This is also one item that patients come into frequent contact with and can be a huge reason for the continuous spread of germs.
Of course, the bedsheets are one of the most important linens that need to be washed and disinfected. This is because patients will sit and lay directly on them. If they are not clean, this runs the highest risk of spreading bacteria. Another obvious linen is towels. Patients and nurses may use towels throughout their stay in order to clean themselves or get bathed. Again, if not properly cared for, this is a common way to spread bacteria.
A type of linen often forgotten about is the privacy curtain in many hospital rooms. This type of linen is prone to the collection of germs because most hospitals do not change it every single day and it is touched quite frequently. In order to understand contamination, this study tested 10 different curtains over 21 days. The hem of the curtain, where it is most frequently touched, was tested for MRSA. By day three, the linens showed a significant amount of increased microbial contamination, and by day 14, five out of eight curtains tested positive for MRSA.
There are specific ways that linens need to be taken care of in order to prevent the spread of disease. The laundering process is a cycle that should include a flush, main wash, bleach cycle, rinse cycle and a souring cycle. The CDC recommends using a chlorine bleach during the bleaching cycle and a souring cycle helps mitigate some bacteria by neutralizing the pH of the water. It is recommended that linens are washed at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be expensive for facilities. They can be appropriately washed in cooler temperatures as long as the rest of the process is closely monitored. The linens should then be dried at the appropriate temperature for the type of linen. Ironing continues to help kill bacteria.
It is important to be sure that you have proper storage of both dirty and clean linens in order to stop cross contamination. Once you have your cleaned linens, you want to be sure that they are stored appropriately in order to make sure that they continue to stay clean. Nurse server cabinets that are installed in patient rooms can often be the place that clean linens are stored. This is because there is easy access to them when they need to be replaced. Though you might think that storing the linens so close to the room may cause them to be contaminated, nurse server cabinets do a great job of preventing the spread of germs and bacteria, especially by allowing them to be restocked from the outside, preventing further contact with patients.
Keeping your entire healthcare facility clean and free of germs of bacteria is incredibly important when it comes to the care of your patients. It is critical that you properly wash your linens and store them in ways like nurse server cabinets to be sure they stay appropriately clean. Contact FlowCARE today to see how we can implement proper storage for your materials!