Navigating the Intersection Where Healthcare Laundry and Infection Prevention Meet

By John Scherberger BS, FAHE, CHESP

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of articles about the role of healthcare laundry in infection prevention.

Remember learning intersection safety in driver’s ed? We were warned that intersections could be dangerous because they’re where vehicles, pedestrians, runners and cyclists are converging in the same space. We were told that about 20 percent of all crashes happen at intersections. We learned that – whether it’s one without a signal, one with signals, or one with a roundabout – it is important to understand how to navigate an intersection safely and under many different conditions.

Similarly, in the hospital, the infection preventionist (IP) must understand how to navigate the intersection where healthcare laundry and infection prevention come together. The good news is, outbreaks of infectious diseases associated with laundered healthcare textiles (HCTs) are extremely rare . Yet, like with driving, this is an intersection with potential for risk for the inexpert, where unforeseen accidents can happen if unaware, and where certain “laws” apply – but you must know them.

Of course, in driver’s ed, the goal of understanding how to navigate intersections is all about crossing to one’s own personal safety. For the IP, the goal of navigating the intersection of healthcare laundry and infection prevention is to ensure hygienically safe healthcare textiles (HCTs) for every patient in the hospital. This is especially true for those IPs who are part of a multidisciplinary team approach to infection prevention strategy.

That’s a big responsibility for an already complex job. Here are some points to know about this intersection to help steer in the proper direction:

Maintaining hygienic HCTs is as important to quality patient outcomes as practicing proper hand hygiene.

The healthcare textile is the one common factor of every…

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