What Lab Coats and Scrubs Have to do with Infection Prevention
By Medline Newsroom Staff | May 30, 2019
Physicians take an oath to “do no harm”, but a new set of findings published in the New York Times found some clinicians may be unknowingly carrying harm around with them. The findings show a majority of physicians go more than a week before washing their white lab coats and 17% go more than a month between washings. The implications go beyond mere hygiene into the realm of safety, for a systematic review of studies found that doctor’s iconic white coats are frequently contaminated with strains of harmful and drug-resistant bacteria associated with health care-associated infections (HAIs). The findings highlight the need for prevention strategies to include laundry when standardizing cleaning and disinfection processes.
“Optimally, any apparel worn at the bed-side that comes into contact with a patient or patient environment should be laundered after daily use,” says Rosie D. Lyles, MD, director of clinical affairs at Medline. “For example, each patient is given clean, fresh linen everyday regardless if they are colonized with a multidrug resistance organism (MDRO) or not. This should be standard for nurses and doctors as well.”
Hospitals, and the laundries that serve them, are increasingly looking to proactively address infection prevention through innovative antimicrobial technology. SilvaClean®, for example, infuses textiles with pure silver ions during the laundry rinse cycle, where they bond with fabrics to residually kill 99.9% of certain organisms.* It also preserves textiles against stain- and odor-causing bacteria and fungi (mold and mildew). Given the multitude of patients that clinicians treat, and the many MDROs encountered in care settings, standards of textile cleanliness must adapt.
“Clinicians are mobile within a hospital because they are treating multiple patients in multiple settings, and they can transfer MDROs from their cloths as they can transfer MDROs from their uncleaned hands, stethoscope and etc.,” says Lyles. “We have to implement additional infection control measures like Applied Silver’s SilvaClean to effectively launder our scrubs and white coats.”
Learn more about how Medline works with health systems to reduce health care associated infections.
*Refer to EPA master label for a full list of organisms SilvaClean is effective against. EPA Reg. No. 90335-1