Dr Katie Laird (pictured above and right), reader in microbiology and head of the infectious disease research group at the university, has written to the UK government to flag concerns over Public Health England (PHE) guidance that states industrial laundering should be used but if this is not possible, health workers should take uniforms home in a disposable plastic bag.
In addition, Dr Laird has called for nurses and health staff to be further educated “in the role of textiles as a transmission route”.
Taking uniforms home to be washed meant health workers “run the risk of contaminating their home environment”, warned Dr Laird.
“Healthcare worker uniforms are commonly laundered at home in the UK, unlike in the rest of Europe where uniforms are either washed within the hospital or at an industrial laundry,” explained Dr Laird, who has conducted extensive research into the domestic and industrial wash processes of healthcare uniforms.
“By taking their uniforms home, workers run the risk of contaminating their home environment, including the washing machine, because unlike in-house or industrial laundries, there is no segregation of laundry based on designated soiled and clean areas.”
“This means that if the virus is on the uniform, it could transfer onto other surfaces or items of clothing in the wash.”
She also warned that some washing machines used at home “do not always get up to the temperature shown”, meaning that although staff may think they are washing their uniform at a high temperature of 60°C, they might not be. Dr Laird said this could give “potential for coronavirus to be transmitted back into the hospital environment via the same uniform”.
The PHE guidance, updated on 17 April, states: “Healthcare laundry services should be used to launder staff uniforms. If there is no laundry facility available, then uniforms should be transported home in a disposable plastic bag. This bag should be disposed of into the household waste stream.”
It added that uniforms should be laundered separately from other household linen, in a load not more than half the machine capacity and at the maximum temperature the fabric can tolerate.
Source: https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/coron ... 4-04-2020/