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TRSA Member Resources Address UPMC Case

Read the TRSA Statement

TRSA is supporting members with information for their communications to healthcare customers and is directly informing healthcare professionals regarding the absence of evidence that linens contributed to the 2015 and 2016 deaths of five immune-compromised University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) patients.

Documents posted on www.hygienicallyclean.org of particular value to launderers include TRSA’s statement on the matter, which notes that state and federal health officials cleared linens despite a report for UPMC circulated to media outlets by a plaintiffs’ lawyer who is suing UPMC and Paris Cos., DuBois, PA, on charges of causing the fatal infections in two cases.

Also available through this site are the following items:

  • Jan. 30, 2017, Textile Services Weekly article highlighting the agencies’ conclusions
  • Jan. 28, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article with comments from the Pennsylvania Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Jan. 30, 2017, Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality article referencing the Post-Gazette article
  • May 13, 2016, CDC report on the infections
  • May 2, 2016, UPMC research report
     

A TRSA members-only document accessible from the site, “Healthcare Linen Customer and Media Talking Points,” prepares launderers to answer questions on the matter. The three-page advisory provides facts members can cite to prove that:

  • While tragic, this was an isolated incident
  • TRSA has helped create industry standards for linens in the healthcare industry
  • TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare Certification ensures best practices are in place for hospitals and other healthcare-related facilities
  • Hygienically Clean protocols address airborne contamination of laundered linen and are continuously upgraded to improve monitoring of laundry performance
  • Launderers follow procedures related to healthcare linens that ensure their hygienically clean condition throughout the delivery and storage process
  • Hygiene and safety are top priorities for TRSA members
  • TRSA’s Healthcare Committee provides resources, training and support to members operating in the healthcare space
     

TRSA also sent notification Feb. 3 to its Healthcare Community that nearly 100 operators representing Hygienically Clean Healthcare certified facilities across North America participated in a teleconference Feb. 1 to share information and discuss the UPMC case. The community consists of healthcare professionals who have responded to TRSA ads in healthcare business media, visited TRSA at trade shows and ordered TRSA training resources.

During the teleconference, participants received an update regarding media coverage, discussed implications for laundering best management practices and were acquainted with the posted resources to assist them in communicating with customers.

The CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PaDOH) did not implicate linens as a source of mold that infected the UPMC patients and both agencies stated they would not investigate further.

“State and federal health officials reaffirmed their earlier findings clearing linens and the UPMC-commissioned study did not indicate any significant linen contamination at the laundry or hospital,” said Hygienically Clean Advisory Board Chair Randy Bartsch, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Corp., Seattle. “We believe it is important that any implication of linen in HAIs is taken seriously and that Hygienically Clean Healthcare facilities are prepared to address customer concerns and take precautionary actions.”

Hygienically Clean Healthcare certification, recognized as the highest standard of certification in healthcare linen safety and cleanliness, is the only healthcare standard in North America that requires initial and ongoing quarterly microbiological testing based on internationally recognized protocols and standards. In addition, Hygienically Clean Healthcare tests for molds and yeasts, and after more than 3,000 microbial tests of healthcare linens and garments, there has never been any evidence of Rhizopus or other dangerous molds.

Hygienically Clean Healthcare standards for processing linens and garments require inspection to verify laundries’ commitment to best management practices (BMPs) plus this microbial testing to quantify hygiene of clean textiles produced. Certification confirms a laundry’s dedication to compliance and BMPs as described in its quality assurance documentation (QA). The standard also requires quarterly ongoing microbial testing and a supplemental second inspection during a facility’s three-year certification period.

In addition, the Hygienically Clean Advisory Board, Healthcare Committee and Hygienically Clean Users Groups will review all Hygienically Clean Healthcare policies and procedures, including testing and inspection. The standard was updated in December 2016 adding a second supplemental inspection during the three-year certification period, and preliminary studies are underway to identify and test critical control points within the laundry.