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When it comes to hospital bed linens, you might not expect to hear health-care providers say, “I would use this on my bed at home!”
But that’s exactly what many have been saying in recent months since 3sHealth and K-Bro began introducing a new kind of fitted sheet into the provincial linen inventory.
“So many providers have told me they think these new sheets are much better than the old ones,” said Jennifer Fetch, lead of provincial linen services for southern Saskatchewan with 3sHealth. “Providers tell me these new sheets are more comfortable for patients too.”
Because the new fitted sheets are made of polyester, they do not pill or develop lint. This is important, given how often they are used, laundered, and returned to the system.
“The new sheets are stronger than the ones used throughout the system before October 2017,” said Fetch. “As a result, they are less likely to develop snags and tears. The new sheets also are much more stain repellant.”
The stats tell the tale
Over time, linens can develop set-in stains. They can also snag and tear. When health-care facility staff come across defective linens when making up a
bed, they place them into black mesh bags on their carts. The contents of the black mesh bags are then sent back to the vendor (K-Bro) for disposal.
In the summer of 2017, 3sHealth and K-Bro started noticing a relatively high return rate for fitted sheets through the black mesh bag program. Back then, more than 400 fitted sheets were being regularly returned each month because of defects.
To address the issue, 3sHealth worked with K-Bro to bring in a better quality product. Since rolling out the new stock in October 2017, rejection rates due to snags, tears, and staining have plummeted 75 per cent. Now, about 100 fitted sheets are being returned each month due to some kind of defect – a relatively small amount, given 35,000 fitted sheets are distributed by the provincial service each week.
Medical tape and foreign objects
During medical treatments and procedures, it’s common for discarded medical tape to stick to soiled bed linens.
“The longer that medical tape is left on linens, the harder it is to get off,” explained Fetch. “When tape is not removed before laundering, it will leave behind stains. Tape and other foreign objects left in soiled linens can also cause significant damage to machinery at the plant.”
But the new fitted sheets are better at resisting the adhesives in medical tape. As a result, there is less chance that tape will end up staining the new fitted sheets. It’s a win-win for providers and patients.
While the amount of tape and tape residue has improved by 50 per cent since last fall, it is still an ongoing concern. 3sHealth continues to work closely with frontline staff to prevent foreign objects, including medical tape, from entering the laundry system.