A recent study (Variable decontamination efficacy of domestic washing machines: potential risks for home laundering of healthcare uniforms) conducted by the University of Leicester DMU in collaboration with TSA (Textile Service Association) has highlighted how the practice of home washing of hospital uniforms is a health hazard.

More than 700,000 nurses in the UK take their uniforms home every day, thus removing them from industrial sanitation.
However, studies confirm that domestic washing machines cannot meet the minimum disinfection standards, set out in the guidelines for “Decontamination of linen for health and social care fabrics” set by the NHS, and updated to 08/31/2021.

These data inevitably lead to a reflection on the management of work uniforms in hospital environments: incorrect management habits are only the result of an underestimation of the risks they entail or are part of a more complex problem that “structurally” concerns the distribution of uniforms?

Home washing of hospital uniforms: bad habit or "structural" problem in managing uniforms?

In the UK this practice is endorsed by the ministry of healthcare itself, with incentives for private individuals to independently wash their uniforms, in the mistaken belief that they are saving money on the “sanitization” chapter.
This behaviour is probably also the result of the fear of “losing” one’s uniform, or of not finding a suitable uniform upon arrival at the hospital.
All this creates a vicious circle: the healthcare worker who struggles to find a uniform of his own size tends to appropriate a greater number of uniforms whenever he has the opportunity. Consequently, the warehouse stocks are constantly distorted, because many uniforms are taken away from the fleet in circulation, despite being available to the employees of the structure.

The real risks of the lack of industrial sanitation of uniforms

Failure to check the return of uniforms for industrial sanitization leads to an increase in costs for hospitals: on the one hand, constantly restoring warehouse stocks affects the budget of hospital facilities, on the other hand, unsanitized uniforms can become a vehicle for contamination and infection, with the consequent implications that derive from it on hygiene and public health.

Automatic distribution of uniforms: how to manage uniforms in a hygienic way, keeping costs under control

The controlled management of uniforms and the maintenance of high hygiene standards are the main objectives that a hospital sets itself when it decides to implement an automatic management system for textiles. The use of our vending machines allows a rational and controlled distribution of the uniforms, ensures a 24-hour service, but above all prevents the uniforms from being removed from the correct industrial sanitization cycle.
Having an automatic distribution system means knowing where the uniforms are at all times, verifying their correct use, optimizing the circulation of textiles and, consequently, extending the life of each garment.
Furthermore, thanks to the management software, our uniform distributors are always stocked in order to satisfy staff requests, offering the correct mix of sizes and items at all times.
We are convinced that this study, which has brought to light alarming data, will make us reflect on the complexity involved in textile logistics, and will allow all the players involved to reflect on the future of uniform management, a future made up of investments in the best technologies, suitable hardware and software capable of optimizing the laundry flows and the corresponding data analysis.

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