March 4-5 Public Sessions to Focus on Reusable Healthcare Textiles

Posted February 23, 2024 at 11:29 am

Register for the Workshop

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) will host a March 4-5 virtual public workshop to examine opportunities to increase the use of reusable healthcare textiles (HCTs) as personal protective equipment (PPE) in healthcare settings. The event is taking place in part because of TRSA’s advocacy with Congress to prompt these facilities to consider a more favorable balance in their inventories of reusables versus disposables.

This workshop seeks to familiarize technical experts, policymakers, manufacturers, PPE users and others with how and why more HCTs can be integrated into healthcare operations.

Last summer, Reps. Greg Landsman (D-OH-01) and Michael Carey (R-OH-15) were the chief co-signers (among 13) of a TRSA-inspired letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. It asked the department to examine the feasibility and benefits of HCTs in hospitals and other medical facilities to protect healthcare workers, address the rising environmental impact of disposables, prepare for future pandemics and potentially provide cost savings.

In October, Mandy Cohen, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, responded to the Congressional letter. She indicated the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) would study increased HCT use and resulting savings. This includes commissioning the National Academies workshop and examining ways to encourage healthcare facilities to integrate more HCTs into their activities.

The workshop is set for two six-hour sessions (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST) on Monday, March 4, and Tuesday, March 5. A formal agenda has yet to be published, but is expected to:

  • Examine existing recommendations, approaches and guidelines relating to HCTs to ensure optimal protection of patients and healthcare workers
  • Discuss issues related to contamination of textiles and fabrics in healthcare facilities
  • Explore issues associated with current product and technology standards for HCTs, considering input on standards needs from a past Federal Register notice from NIOSH’s Personal Protective Technologies Centers of Excellence
  • Examine the comparative performance, comfort, environmental impact and use issues for disposables versus HCTs
  • Highlight similarities and differences between U.S. and European systems for HCT use/maintenance/disposal systems, sustainability and standards/regulations
  • Explore potential benefits, including potential cost savings and feasibility issues related to increasing the use of HCTs in crisis and everyday situations and in different healthcare settings
  • Discuss opportunities and approaches to integrate more HCTs into health care operations where appropriate

NAS is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization providing independent, objective advice to spark progress and advance science, engineering and medicine for the benefit of society. Clients include Congress, NIOSH, other federal agencies, state and local government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, and others.