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Earlier this year, the provincial Surgical Linen Advisory Committee and the provincial Linen Advisory Committee approved new rules about acceptable staining levels on clean scrubs and warming jackets. Many of these stains are caused by pens, markers, and lipstick tubes that make it into the wash.
Items that are stained with ink and/or dye are considered hygienically clean by all laundry accreditation standards.
Scrubs and warming jackets that have only one small ink or dye stain on them – where the ink or dye stain is generally smaller than a toonie – are acceptable. These items should not be placed in the black mesh bags on linen carts for removal from the system. Rather, these items should remain in the provincial inventory.
Keep, in most cases
Scrubs and warming jackets that have two to three ink or dye stains on them – where each ink or dye stain is generally smaller than a toonie – should be considered acceptable in most cases and not placed into black mesh bags. Generally, items with minimal stains on them should remain in the provincial inventory.
Scrubs and warming jackets with three or more large ink or dye stains on them – where each ink or dye stain is generally bigger than a toonie – should be placed into black mesh bags.
Remember, only clean, non-functional linens should be placed in black mesh bags when the staining from an ink or a dye is significant. Defective linen returned in black mesh bags will be credited to the facility and removed from circulation.
Examples of defective linen include:
- Missing ties
- Ties knotted together
- Missing buttons/snaps
- Excessive stains
- Tape or tape residue
- Tears or rips
You can help prevent staining
Items like pens, markers, and lipstick left behind in dirty laundry can stain many items while those items are being laundered. This results in needless waste each year.
Last year, K-Bro (our provincial linen vendor) removed more than 3,600 scrubs from circulation due to preventable forms of staining. That is the number of scrubs used by the surgical department at one Saskatchewan hospital over a three-and-a-half month period.
The cost of replacing these items represents six per cent of the total annual spend for all types of scrubs in the provincial health system.
Staff should always empty the pockets of soiled scrubs before placing those scrubs into the laundry. By preventing avoidable forms of staining, the system will produce less waste and incur fewer costs.