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Linen loss is a huge issue in the healthcare industry. While losing a baby blanket or a towel here and there may not seem like much, it adds up. Linen loss costs the healthcare industry an average of $840 million each year.
Finding ways to reduce linen loss makes a difference when it comes to your medical practice’s finances. So, we’ve pulled together a few guidelines from the American Reusable Textile Association and HCSC to help you reduce linen loss in your healthcare facility.
1. Work with a linen service provider that has your best interests at heart.
This might seem disingenuous coming from a linen service provider, but working with a company that has practice in managing linens on-site makes all the difference. At Unitex, we’ve created a separate division that focuses solely on linen and uniform management programs in client facilities. We can customize our onsite program to fit your specific requirements and create documentation that records the critical areas you define for us.
2. Find out how and where you’re losing linen.
Just like water or power, linen is often taken for granted, especially in the healthcare industry. Often, staff will use more linens than they need, use linens incorrectly, allow linens to leave the facility with patients, or throw out linens that can be salvaged. This happens most often in the operating room, the emergency room, the neonatal unit and during patient transports.
3. Review your inventory management practices.
Now that you’ve identified the areas where you’re unnecessarily losing linen, bring in your linen service provider to conduct an audit of your linen room. A disorganized storage area and inventory management system almost inevitably leads to linen loss.
4. Form a linen policy committee.
Create a group of people that meet on a regular basis to identify areas in which your facility could better prevent linen loss. Then, allow the committee to set policies that remedy weak areas. Your linen committee should include a representative from every medical unit, as well as representatives from environmental services, infection control and security.
5. Educate your employees.
Ultimately, preventing linen loss starts and ends with your employees. Unfortunately, employees are often indifferent to the issue or are unaware of how it could potentially affect them. Education is necessary. Consider creating a Linen Awareness Day to introduce your employees to your medical linen service provider, educate them on how different linens should be used and in what amounts, and review policies on scrub use and other linen-related topics.
6. Scatter reminders throughout your facility.
Although education is good, reminding your employees in the moment of decision can make a huge difference. Place signs and educational posters on or near the unit cart or closet, soiled linen containers and waste receptacles.
7. Conduct reviews regularly.
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, given a little time. Even if you have all of the best practices in place, things change and people become forgetful. To make sure that you don’t lose all of your progress, consult with your linen provider regularly and continue to educate your employees.
Communication is key to preventing linen loss.
Contact Unitex to learn more about our strategies to prevent linen loss in healthcare facilities.