Medical privacy curtains are a vector for infection. Their effective management – timely laundering in a manner that reduces pathogens to a level that does not pose a threat to patient health – is an essential part of any hospital’s infection prevention program. This is more important than ever as health systems labor to rebuild hospital admissions while the pandemic continues to rage and consumer risk tolerance remains low.
Even as COVID-19 vaccinations get underway in the U.S., experts are urging everyday Americans to not let down their guard. “We are still at a dangerous and critical part of this pandemic and tens of thousands of American lives are at stake really every week,” said Adm. Brett P. Giroir, in a CNN interview. Giroir is assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has led the country’s national vaccine testing efforts.
He went on to convey that the country is months from any kind of real relief from the risks associated with the novel coronavirus. Consumer awareness of and concern for infection prevention and control continues to grow. The top two concerns in an October 2020 Numerator study were economic impact and fear of infection.
This fear has had a huge impact on hospital admissions. A September 2020 report from Health Affairs, stated that, “Even among hospitals experiencing a minimal impact from COVID-19 admissions, non-COVID-19 medical admissions fell by 39.5 percent; for hospitals with the greatest COVID-19 impact, non-COVID-19 admissions fell by 50.0 percent.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in 20 people spending the night in a hospital will get an infection. CleanLink publications reported on a contributing factor – 92 percent of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria, according to research from the American Journal for Infection Control.
As recently as 2018, The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) reported that, “Without timely intervention, privacy curtains in hospitals can become breeding grounds for resistant bacteria, posing a threat to patient safety.”
Changing and tracking the frequency of laundering hospital medical curtains is time-consuming and labor intensive, which is why more and more hospitals are outsourcing this service to Faultless Healthcare Linen’s cubicle solutions curtain management program.
“We know that privacy curtains pose a high risk for cross-contamination because they are frequently touched but infrequently changed,” said Kevin Shek, BSc, the lead author of this APIC study.
The study found that the curtains once hung in patient rooms became increasingly contaminated over time and that after two weeks nearly 90 percent of the cubicle curtains were positive for MRSA.
“The high rate of contamination that we saw by the fourteenth day may represent an opportune time to intervene, either by cleaning or replacing the curtains,” Shek added.
The Faultless Healthcare Linen curtain management program solves for two issues with privacy curtain infection prevention – cleaning to a threshold that guides the reduction of pathogens to levels that pose no threat of human illness, and using our barcode technology to track and maintain a record of laundering.
Faultless Healthcare Linen is unique in Missouri and Kansas in having all the critical certifications that validate its clean and safe laundering – Hygienically Clean Healthcare certified by TRSA, Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council and Infection Control University.
Maintaining a record that follows the cleaning history, as our barcode technology enables, not only serves in medical linen inventory management but helps keep your hospital compliant with Joint Commission standards.