Ozone Disinfection in Healthcare

Whether hospitals, clinics, care homes, GP surgeries, dentists and health centres have their own in-house laundry and disinfection facilities or employ the services of an off-site commercial laundry, operating to HTM 01-04 guidelines is vital to preventing the spread of infection within healthcare premises.

The Choice Framework for local Policy and Procedure specifies two levels of attainment. The first, Essential Quality Requirements (EQR) is the minimum standard and states “Regardless of the technology employed, linen should be processed using a disinfection cycle complying with the specified level of reduction in bacteriological contamination and this process will be required to be validated”. For healthcare organisations though, that must ensure the very highest levels of safeguarding, the higher standard of Best Practice (BP) should be strived for, as an enhancement of EQR in which further risk assessment is carried out to maintain and establish a progressive approach to linen safety (in relation to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and the protection of laundry staff as well as other workers).

Both in-house and off-site, the priority in terms of washing sheets, curtains, mops, cloths and other daily essentials should be the same: to not only ensure cleanliness and high levels of hygiene, but to achieve and verify fail-safe decontamination measures. Here, two progressive healthcare organisations talk about the benefits of using the validated OTEX ozone disinfection laundry process, developed by the UK’s largest commercial laundry equipment and infection control specialist JLA.

On-premise laundry

York Hospital, the flagship hospital of York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, installed the OTEX Ozone Disinfection system for the disinfection of their microfibre cloths and mops as part of its plan to bring Domestic Services back in-house.

Wendy Dale, domestic services manager at York Hospital, says:

“Microfibre mops and cloths basically act like magnets for bacteria. What impressed us most about JLA was their OTEX innovation. The system’s ability to thoroughly disinfect and also reduce costs was a major factor when it came to choosing them as our supplier.”

OTEX uses mostly cold water and therefore achieves faster wash cycles, dramatically reduces utility and detergent costs and cuts labour bills by saving time.

“Our laundry is in operation round the clock seven days a week, processing over 4,000 microfibre mops and cloths a day,” continues Wendy, “so being able to save energy was vital. JLA actually metered the electricity supply to the laundry and established that OTEX was saving us 82% compared to a conventional laundry. An added bonus is that we are using half as much detergent because of the way the system processes laundry.”

The disinfection system is so successful that York Hospital bosses recently announced the passing of a year without a patient acquiring the MRSA superbug infection.

Off-site infection control

In addition to supplying and supporting on-premise laundry set-ups, JLA also enhances the services offered by third party laundry service providers, giving industry leaders such as Grosvenor Contracts London Ltd the means to offer the ultimate in infection control through a combination of OTEX and barrier washing machines.

“Ozone laundering is a long-established technology with a proven track record of being more effective than traditional thermal washing with recognition as such from the Department of Health – and for us, nothing beats OTEX Ozone Disinfection. It wins hands down in the hygiene stakes by proving that disinfection has taken place on every cycle. The ambient water temperature also means linen, curtains, mops and cloths last longer. Some people question the merits of using anything less than a 75°C cycle, but why risk damaging fabrics by using high temperatures to achieve disinfection when you can gently clean them, extend fabric life, kill bacteria such as MRSA, E.Coli and C.difficile at typically less than 40°C – and print off a verification receipt to demonstrate HTM 01-04 Best Practice after each wash?”

Jackie Hook, in-house Chemist at JLA, played a central role in developing OTEX almost ten years ago, and is proud of the mark it has made on the laundry industry since.

"OTEX ticks all the boxes for a healthcare organisation. It disinfects on every cycle, eliminating user error; it works at low temperatures to save energy+; it can be used in large volumes in both free-standing washers and barrier washers with a range of machine sizes up to 90kg; and whilst naturally powerful as a disinfectant it will not damage the fibres of the laundry; ozone washing increases the lifespan of fabrics. Other laundry methods have their place, but no other solution offers the all-round peace of mind that OTEX does. As the Rapid Review Panel acknowledged in 2009, put simply, ozone is more effective in decontamination than traditional methods.*

As laundry and infection control expert, JLA has made available a brief overview of the guidelines set out in HTM01-04 and their impact on laundry. To obtain a free copy or for advice in disinfection training/induction, categorisation of linen and general laundry process assistance call 0800 591 903.

Showcase Hospital Technology Review Report Number 8 (Southampton)

* Basic research and development, validation and recent in use evaluations have shown benefits that should be available to NHS bodies to include as appropriate in their cleaning, hygiene or infection control protocols. (recommendation 1). Evidence shows that it is more effective in decontamination than current laundry systems. Department of Health, Sep ‘09

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