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This report summarizes the imperatives of keeping healthcare textiles -- and the facility in which they are laundered and processed -- free from contaminants that may be implicated in healthcare-associated infections.
The healthcare textiles-related outbreak at a children's hospital is a real-life example of what can happen when part of a system designed to protect patients falters. Five pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans died after they were exposed to a fungus on contaminated bed linens, according to news reports and studies from the literature. Between 2008 and 2009, the children contracted mucormycosis. A study led by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) medical officer determined that the linens were contaminated by fungal spores; the researchers noted that textiles were exposed to the outdoors at a laundry facility and the loading dock. Over the last four decades, 12 similar outbreaks were reported, according to the CDC. The clean textiles were inadvertently exposed to environmental contaminants such as dust in storage areas, or there was a breakdown in the laundering process.