Handling Soiled Linen in a Healthcare Environment

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A 13-minute best practices training video for distribution to linen service customers and prospects, “The Six C’s: Handling Soiled Linen in a Healthcare Environment” guides nurses, environmental services personnel, housekeepers who contact soiled linen at work. The six easy-to-follow steps aid infection control, enhance patient care and reduce costs at hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and other medical facilities.

The training video, developed by TRSA commercial laundry professionals in cooperation with the American Reusable Textile Association and Association for Linen Management, provides best practices based on OSHA’s Universal Precautions for handling soiled linen saturated with blood, bodily fluids, harmful residue from treatments and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

“Healthcare facilities, from family practices to hospitals and emergency care centers are complex environments with many demands made on staff and other personnel,” noted TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci. “This video was designed to be low impact for information complexity, but high impact on simple steps that everyone can take to improve the continuum of care and reduce linen loss.”

Not only can the improper handling of healthcare linens increase the risk of infection, it generates costly waste due to improper disposal. TRSA estimates that nearly 90 percent of all linen used in U.S. hospitals does not reach its useful life, costing the healthcare industry more than $840 million in annual losses.

The video points out that all affected staff (especially nursing, housekeeping and management) must collaborate with their linen service provider to properly protect patients (or long-term-care residents) and colleagues. An overview is included of healthcare industry best practices for handling linen. Their value to improving patient care and promoting a safety culture is noted.

Universal precautions are highlighted, as it’s deemed essential for healthcare workers to assume all human blood and potentially infectious materials they handle are infected, because they can’t be sure which patients are infected or what infections are present. Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are mentioned in-kind.