- Written by Russ Maziarka
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Health Care laundries are required by today’s Infection Control professionals to guarantee that their linens are processed to a higher standard of clean. This is due to the ultimate cost of Healthcare Acquired Infections or HAIs. In a 2009 study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control it is estimated that the overall annual direct medical costs of HAIs to U.S. Hospitals ranges from $28.4 to $33.8 Billion. This same report estimates that the savings that can be gained from implementing an effective infection control program, including an improved laundry process, range from $5.7 to $6.8 Billion annually.
While there is no specific definition of “clean” in U.S. regulatory rulings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides us some guidance through the acceptance, approval and registration of products for sanitization and disinfection properties. The EPA is the only regulatory body in the US to have authority concerning products that claim to have antimicrobial activity. These higher standards are defined as Sanitizers which reduce bacterial organism levels by 99.9% and Disinfectants which provide a 99.999% kill of bacterial organisms.
Today, full knowledge of this hierarchy of clean and implementation of control programs that reduce HAIs is a major goal of the over 5000 healthcare facilities enrolled in the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Understanding the difference between disinfection and merely being hygienically clean is paramount to Infection Control Professionals, the safety of their patients and the health of their facility’s bottom line.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Russ Maziarka is a Senior Marketing Manager with Ecolab Textile Care
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