When laundries were primarily a department within a hospital, the laundry was regulated by the department of public health (or similar state agency) and The Joint Commission. Changes in healthcare delivery systems made laundry the number one outsourced hospital service moving it outside the purview of public health and accrediting bodies like The Joint Commission. Soon the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) assigned the responsibility for oversight of all contracted services impacting the patient to the hospital governing body.
Approximately ten years ago a voluntary independent healthcare accreditation program was developed to aid consumers in assessing a laundries compliance with the voluntary practices. Since then other programs have surfaced using various methods for awarding certification for healthcare laundry operations. While these programs can be very helpful in gauging a laundry’s understanding and implementation of these guidelines, the hospital remains accountable.
Fortunately, in the United States, the incidents where textiles were determined to play a role in the spread of infection have been rare. This is most likely the result of laundries adherence to recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In fact the three incidences occurring in recent history were not the result of inadequate processing practices, but actually failures in textile transport, handling, and storage.
The Hospital Laundry Oversight Checklist is an independent aid for use by hospitals when performing their annual inspection of their contracted laundry provider.
Through the ALM forums, members may ask questions regarding regulatory practice for textiles and their role in infection control, including posing questions to ALM’s Clinical Advisor, Dr. Fontaine Sands. Replies are posted within 48 hours during the week. Members must log in to the site to access the forums.
ALM members have access to a veteran laundry Infection Preventionist through Ask the Experts. Post questions about textiles, processing, and infection prevention. Responses provided within 2 working days. Members must log in to the site to access Ask the Experts.
A myriad of regulatory bodies address healthcare textile guidance for processing, collection of soiled/contaminated textiles, transportation, and storage. ALM members can access federal applications, as well as state regulations/statutes for the states in their surrounding service areas.