TRSA Responds to Misleading Mag Article

Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm

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TRSA recently responded to a report that was published in MD Magazine about laundry facilities being a potential source for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection. The association disputes the findings, which were first published in FEMS Microbiology Letters in an Oct. 14 article titled “Clostridium difficile Environmental Contamination within a Clinical Laundry Facility in the USA.” TRSA contends that the study fuels misleading impressions of hospital laundry cleanliness.

TRSA strongly disputed the article in a letter sent from TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci, who said that the story could “misleadingly create false alarms.” The letter pointed out that since no significant contamination was found on the clean side of the laundry facility, the conclusion that soiled linen contamination was a risk to laundry workers seemed baseless. TRSA also noted that there was a reasonable expectation that soiled linen areas could be more vulnerable to contamination when compared to clean areas. The number of documented cases of C. difficile infection passed from laundry to employee or patient, or other healthcare provider had no statistical bearing, the letter said.

“Laundering hospital textiles provides the linchpin to prevent transmission of contamination from soiled linen,” said Dr. David F. Goldsmith, MSPH, a Georgetown University epidemiologist. “Laundries demonstrate that they can accomplish this by becoming certified to a standard such as TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare that requires their facilities to be inspected and undergo frequent laboratory testing to verify they meet independently established cleanliness requirements enforced around the world.”

TRSA pointed out in its letter that hospital and commercial laundry facilities undergo strict protocols to ensure minimal risk of contamination. For example, inspections and randomized testing are used to maintain the highest expectations of cleanliness, workers wear personalized protective equipment (PPE), as well as follow strict guidelines pertaining to time, temperature, chemical and agitation levels during the cleaning process.

Last year, TRSA worked with healthcare professionals and others to develop The Six C's: Handling Soiled Linen in a Healthcare Environment, a video distributed to hundreds of healthcare facilities to help train their personnel regarding the proper handling of soiled linens to avoid risks to employees and patients.

Recent research indicates that healthcare facilities have significant concerns including C. diff surface testing results consistently higher than that found in laundries. Medical garments such as scrubs worn by nurses are at risk for contamination with potentially harmful bacteria through direct patient care and through contact with the patient’s environment, according to a molecular analysis of pathogen transmission. Frequently, nurses and other healthcare workers wear these and other garments in public and take them home for laundering in washers that cannot reach the water temperatures necessary to properly decontaminate them.