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Operating Room Surgical Sheets Are Not Just Another Piece Of Laundry

Jan 27, 2008
In the healthcare industry, hygiene and infection control are highly significant and the proper care and laundering of O.R. & surgical bed sheets is a major factor in these areas. An estimated 6 billion pounds of O.R. & surgical bed sheets are used each year in American hospitals. Soiled O.R. & surgical bed sheets constitute one of the largest concentrations of microbial contamination in the hospital environment. This abundance of soiled O.R. & surgical bed sheets places an enormous responsibility on the laundry department whose job is to return these soiled O.R. & surgical bed sheets to service in a clean and safe condition, free of contaminants and microorganisms, which otherwise could cause cross-infection throughout the facility. Adequate procedures for collection, transportation, processing, and storage of clean and soiled hospital linens are a necessary protocol in order to limit the possibility of infection in patients and staff who may be unusually susceptible.

Much of the bacteria found in hospital infections are the same found in bed sheets and it has been speculated that O.R. & surgical bed sheets, including pillow cases, blankets, and the like, can contribute to the spread of nosocomial pathologies and infections. There have been many studies conducted in the medical community to support this. The proper disinfection and laundering of O.R. & surgical bed sheets have great importance in resolving these issues. The problem of spreading nosocomial pathologies via O.R. & surgical bed sheets has to be divided into:

- Collection and handling of the sheets.
- Disinfection and laundering / washing.

Regarding the collection and handling of the sheets, there need to be established precautionary standards implemented in an effort to prevent the hospital staff and the patients from direct contagion. During the disinfection and laundering of the soiled, or potentially infected, O.R. & surgical bed sheets, they should be regarded as a potential risk. This risk can be reduced through a disinfection process before the standard laundering or washing cycle. During the laundering process, there are many factors to consider regarding the proper disinfection and cleansing of the soiled sheets. These factors include the processes of cleansing, the dilution of disinfecting chemicals, and the temperature of the water used. It's a painstaking process and many hospitals and healthcare facilities have found it to be more cost effective to contract with an independently operated, professional laundry service that specializes in the disinfection, cleaning, and disposal of soiled hospital sheets and the accompanying accoutrements. When reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as two million patients contract an infection from American hospitals and medical centers every year, accounting for 90,000 deaths, this process becomes all the more significant.

Even in a home healthcare environment, the proper care and maintenance of bed sheets is just as important. There is clear evidence that shows that a virus can remain viable on bed sheets and clothes for significant periods of time. Consider that even dust mites, which are microscopic organisms that feed on shed human skin, can cause allergic reactions in humans - there's no way around it. It's vitally important to consistently keep bed sheets clean and laundered.

There's no excuse for having an inadequate supply bedding materials.
About the Author
To learn more visit our surgical instruments and equipment section or read more about the importance of clean operating room surgical sheets.
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