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HLAC’s 2016 Accreditation Standards Awarded the AHE Seal of Review and Recognition™

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PLAINFIELD, IL ­- May 3, 2016 – The Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) has awarded its AHE Seal of Review and Recognition to the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) document, “Accreditation Standards for Processing Reusable Textiles for Use in Healthcare Facilities – 2016 Edition,” which covers the complete textile processing cycle for use in healthcare facilities.

The announcement follows a formal AHE technical review process by an advisory council comprised of leading authorities in the practice of environmental services and its related disciplines.

“We sought the AHE Seal of Review and Recognition to provide confirmation that HLAC’s accreditation process meets AHE’s practice guidance for excellence and quality,” said John Scherberger, board president of HLAC, a nonprofit organization that inspects and accredits laundries worldwide that process reusable textiles for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

“We’re gratified that our materials were reviewed for technical accuracy and evidence-based practice and compared well against AHE’s own practice guidance documents,” Scherberger said. “AHE’s seal provides HLAC-accredited laundries with the confidence that they’re meeting the stringent standards for excellence in safe patient care.”

The HLAC Accreditation Standards are established as the minimum acceptable practice for the preparation of hygienically clean, reusable healthcare textiles for patient care, implemented and executed by accredited laundry facilities processing reusable healthcare textiles. The document covers the complete textile processing cycle: from handling and transporting soiled healthcare textiles, to in-plant processing and delivery back to the customer. The document also covers many basic considerations, such as facility layout, personnel training and customer service. Special attention has been directed to OSHA required practices, including Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Standards. Part III addresses the surgical pack assembly room and its activities.

HLAC Raises Concerns Over Improperly Used Exchange Carts and Unused HCTs

PLAINFIELD, IL ­- April 12, 2016 – The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) is saying there is “legitimate and increasing concern” of a “widespread” and “unsafe” industry practice regarding the back-and-forth on exchange carts of unused healthcare textiles (HCTs) between hospitals and laundries.

In a newly published article in Facility Care, HLAC board members Gregory Gicewicz and Carol McLay write, “It is an unsafe practice for healthcare laundries to return unused linens on exchange carts from the hospital back to the laundry plant, where those same unused textiles – without being reprocessed – are then topped off with clean linens and returned to the hospital.”

In the article, “A Strategy for Overcoming the Hidden Dangers of Improperly Used Exchange Carts,” Gicewicz and McLay say there is “legitimate and increasing concern that this practice may be widespread across the industry.”

The authors write that HLAC “believes that this improper practice presents numerous opportunities for contamination of textiles.”

While authorities such as The Joint Commission provide direction on the safe transport of unused linens to the healthcare facility, the authors note “they don’t to our knowledge address the return of unused linen from the healthcare facility back to the healthcare laundry. In fact, few entities have actually addressed the return trip.”

The article provides several options for laundries and hospitals that address the concerns.

HLAC Board President John Scherberger said the nonprofit organization, which inspects and accredits laundries that process reusable healthcare textiles, has begun a process for clarifying its standards regarding exchange cart systems.

“Mixing unused, unprocessed linens with clean linens and returning all of them to the hospital is a failure of functional separation as is defined in our 2016 Standards,” Scherberger said. “However, with regard to exchange cart systems, there seems to be some confusion that we will address and endeavor to clarify with the industry and with healthcare laundries.”

“By raising these concerns over improperly used exchange carts and unused HCTs, HLAC has put regulatory agencies and relevant healthcare and laundry entities on notice that we believe patients and staff are potentially being put in harm’s way,” Scherberger said.