The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) has reminded hospitals whose staff and patients want to be insured that compliance with its standards for washing the clothes and textiles they come into contact with every day helps protect public health.
The news comes as hospital and health professionals renewed concerns about the sterility and safety of disposable surgical gowns after recently voluntarily recalling AAMI Level 3 surgical gowns manufactured at unauthorized locations in China. On January 30, the recall was expanded to include procedural packages that included the smocks and that have been kept on a voluntary basis since the first recall was announced.
These events have raised awareness in the industry of the need for strict risk management to ensure the safety of surgical gowns and other hospital textiles, and, according to HLAC, sparked the need for increased vigilance regarding this basic principle of patient health.
"An on-site investigation by the unauthorized manufacturer found that there were open windows, an improperly secured door, food in the production area and insufficient hand washing facilities," said Linda McCurdy, President of HLAC.
“Each of these conditions carries the risk of being exposed to bacteria or other organic substances that could be fatal in an operating room. Conversely, reusable gowns that are processed in a HLAC-accredited laundry must meet the standards created to eliminate these risks.
"As another safety measure that is easy to implement due to its local nature, these processors undergo unannounced inspections by infection prevention and other hospital officials. Hospitals and other medical facilities that work with accredited laundries can credibly assure their employees and patients that the youngest Recall is not a barometer of the dangers of textile safety in healthcare in their operating theaters or on their premises. "
HLAC reminds health professionals and the public that:
- Reusable surgical gowns are cleaned in two steps: First, they are washed according to the established standards for infection prevention and then sterilized in a laundry for healthcare, surgery or in the hospital's own packing room. Local processing facilitates inspections that ensure compliance with best practices, promote open communication with processing personnel, and promote the transparency that is essential for maintaining reliable performance.
- The organization notes that reusable surgical gowns not only provide the highest level of security and public health security, but also provide work for workers in their own community of hospitals and surgery centers. As a result, these medical facilities play an active role in supporting the local economy.
- Your social benefits cover the reduction of waste associated with climate change concerns. Disposable gowns must be disposed of as regulated medical waste. A 2015 study published by Lac-Mac reported that using reusable textiles instead of disposable textiles "can reduce surgical waste by an average of 65%."
- Reusable surgical gowns also outperform disposable items, measured using multiple criteria. In a 2010 study conducted at two major Washington DC hospitals, Conrardy et al. found that 86% of surgeons and surgical technologists rated reusable robes as superior in comfort and 87% as superior in ease of use. Only 6% of the participants indicated that they prefer disposable clothes.