January 2015 Upgraded Protocols

Increased Testing, Best Practices Aim to Improve Safety and Raise Standards

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 26, 2015 – The Hygienically Clean Advisory Board today announces new, more stringent testing protocols for its Hygienically Clean Certification for commercial laundry facilities processing healthcare related goods. Reviewed by a third party, independent epidemiologist, the new protocols are designed to better ensure quantifiable hygienic outcomes for healthcare linens as well as recommendations for best practices for improved hygienic transportation and storage of clean linens and other textiles by commercial laundry services.

The independent certification program was developed by the Advisory Board in partnership with TRSA, the leading global textile services trade association.

“The Advisory Board has worked extensively with TRSA members, scientific experts and clients to advance and refine best practices for the safe and hygienic cleaning of healthcare textiles from a commercial laundry,” said Randy Bartsch, CEO, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Inc. and head of the Advisory Board. “The new testing procedure builds on the successful certification programs developed by TRSA to best address the needs of the healthcare facilities. Hygienically Clean Certification adds value to the commercial laundries that earn it and confidence to the organizations that opt to work with these certified laundries.”

In order to clear the initial thresholds of the Hygienically Clean Certification, facilities must submit two random textiles to an independent, TRSA-approved laboratory for bacteriological testing. The samples must pass testing on three consecutive rounds and the facility must pass an inspection prior to qualification.

At the conclusion of the qualification process, facilities must then pass new regularly scheduled testing protocols to maintain the Hygienically Clean Certification. These protocols include instituting the Replicate Organism Detection and Counting (RODAC) microbiological test. Modeled on European standards, facilities pursuing the Hygienically Clean Certification must now submit to RODAC testing four times per year rather than the previous protocol of twice per year.

In addition, the Advisory Board has incorporated United States Pharmacopeia (USP) 62 as an additional layer of testing. USP 62 is a recognized testing methodology for seven different microorganisms most commonly found in healthcare environments. Under the new Hygienically Clean Certification protocols, facilities seeking certification will be required to submit to this new, additional layer of testing twice annually.

The transportation and storage best practices include standards for cleaning of transportation vehicles and their storage containers, as well as proper handling, separation and storage of textiles on delivery to healthcare facilities.

“The [Hygienically Clean Certification] Program is technically sound and would be a good first step in assuring continued quality control in commercial laundries ,” noted Kellogg J. Schwab, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of JHU Water Institute. Professor Schwab was consulted to confirm the testing protocols are significant and appropriate.

Currently, 50 commercial laundry facilities have earned the Hygienically Clean Certification. Complete information on the program and its newly revised protocols and best practices can be found on the program’s new website at hygienicallyclean.org.

All programs under the Hygienically Clean umbrella will benefit from these changes.

The Hygienically Clean Advisory Board consists of professionals encompassing the full spectrum of healthcare laundry, including commercial launderers, nurses, doctors, chemical manufacturers and research scientists, many of whom were drawn from TRSA’s membership due to their industry knowledge and expertise. The Advisory Board oversees the Hygienically Clean Certification Program. Hygienically Clean, and its family of other certification programs, ensure quality criteria for the production and storage of hygienically clean reusable textiles for use throughout the public sector, including healthcare facilities. Compliance with Hygienically Clean standards is based on microbial (bacteriological) testing, documentation of laundry best management practices, and facility inspections. The program describes procedures for quality assurance; quality control inspections, sampling, and testing; minimum performance specifications; certification; outsourcing of services; non-compliance procedures; recordkeeping; and an appeal process to ensure the production of hygienically clean textiles.