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The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) is advising healthcare laundries to follow the current guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the processing of linens that have been used in the care of suspected or confirmed patients with Ebola.
As stated by the CDC: The Ebola virus is classified as a Category A infectious substance by and regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR, 49 C.F.R., Parts 171-180). Any item transported offsite for disposal that is contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with a Category A infectious substance must be packaged and transported in accordance with the HMR. This includes medical equipment, sharps, linens, and used health care products (such as soiled absorbent pads or dressings, kidney-shaped emesis pans, portable toilets, used Personal Protection Equipment (gowns, masks, gloves, goggles, face shields, respirators, booties, etc.) or byproducts of cleaning) contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with a Category A infectious substance.
Specifically, HLAC, which inspects and accredits healthcare laundries, is recommending against any subsequent processing of linens used in the care of Ebola patients. HLAC is urging all healthcare laundries -- on-premises laundries as well as offsite laundries -- to advise their staff and hospital partners that, in accordance with CDC guidelines, linens, including non-fluid-impermeable pillows or mattresses, and textile privacy curtains that have been exposed to suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) patients, are to be placed in a red bio-hazard precaution bag and disposed of according to the healthcare facility's hazardous waste disposal policy and procedure. Bio-hazardous waste should not be transported other than by properly licensed and equipped professional hazardous waste disposal companies.
"Laundries should advise their healthcare customers to remind their staff that red-bagged bio-hazard materials should never be sent to healthcare laundries with soiled linen," says Gregory Gicewicz, president of HLAC. "Also at this time, we're telling our laundries that any Ebola-affected linens received by them should be disposed of in accordance with proper professional bio-hazard disposal processes."
Gicewicz added that such red-bag linens should not be left on a dock or on the floor area of the laundry but need to be temporarily stored in a locked room and contained in a clearly marked bio-hazard 55-gallon drum that is securely sealed.
"In all of this, it's best to err on the side of caution -- common sense is the order of the day," he says.
On Nov. 14, 2014 HLAC will host a webinar on Ebola preparedness from a laundry perspective. The webinar will include a Q&A. Details will be available soon and published on HLAC's website: www.hlacnet.org.
Source: Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC)