A lesson in hospital linen safety from laundry to patient and back

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

May 21, 2014

It’s often taken for granted that dirty laundry in a hospital will be properly cleaned, disinfected, and sent back ready to use for the next patient – but recent events show that’s not always the case.
According to a report in The New York Times, a few weeks ago, the issue of improperly disinfected linens has raised concerns about patient safety at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans after at least four children died a flesh-eating infection contracted from dirty laundry.
The outbreak of mucormycosis, which occurred between August 2008 and July 2009, is suspected to have spread partly because of lapses in the hospital’s infection controls and sloppy handling of contaminated linens, the paper reported.
If you’ve ever wondered about where hospital laundry goes after it goes down the chute, check out this story and graphic from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, which follows the process of how linens are processed in East Jefferson General Hospital in the New Orleans area. The company they use, Associated Hospital Services, processes about 8 million pounds of laundry a year, all for use in the medical industry.