Researchers Review Disinfection Methods of Hospital Drinking Water

February 22, 2011

Experts say that Legionnaires disease is directly linked to the presence of Legionella in hospital drinking water, and that disinfecting the drinking water system is an effective preventive measure. Yusen E. Lin PhD, MBA, of the National Kaohsiung Normal University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and colleagues at the Special Pathogens Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pa., assert that the efficacy of any disinfection measures should be validated in a stepwise fashion from laboratory assessment to a controlled multiple-hospital evaluation over a prolonged period of time.

In their review, Yusen, et al. evaluate systemic disinfection methods (copper-silver ionization, chlorine dioxide, monochloramine, ultraviolet light, and hyperchlorination), a focal disinfection method (point-of-use filtration), and short-term disinfection methods in outbreak situations (superheat-and-flush with or without hyperchlorination). The researchers say that the hospital's infection prevention and control professional should take the lead in selection of the disinfection system and the vendor.

The researchers conclude that routine performance of surveillance cultures of drinking water to detect Legionella and monitoring of disinfectant concentrations are necessary to ensure long-term efficacy of preventive measures.

Reference: Lin YE, Stout JE and Yu VL. Controlling Legionella in Hospital Drinking Water: An Evidence-Based Review of Disinfection Methods. Infect Control Hosp Epidem. Vol. 32, No. 2. February 2011.