Privacy Settings Experts Recommend the Regular Use of Water Quality Testing Kits in Hospitals? - Aquacert
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One of the UK’s earliest outbreak of legionnaires’ disease took place in 1985 at the Stafford District General Hospital.  There were 68 confirmed cases of which 22 people died and this prompted experts to recommend the regular use of water quality testing kits in hospitals.

Is hospital Water Dangerous?

Many UK hospitals were planned and built before legionella bacteria had even been discovered and given a name so their plumbing systems were designed and installed very differently to new, modern hospitals. Consequently the risk of poor water quality is higher in these older buildings. Rest assured hospitals strive to be vigilant in monitoring and testing their water because the patients they look after are the most susceptible to all types of infections. Typical water borne pathogens in hospitals are Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacteria and recently Stenotrophomonas maltophilia.

Infections from these pathogens can be serious for most patients and fatal for people with a weak immune system.

What are hospitals doing to reduce this risk?

In the last few years, hospitals have recognised that some of their patients require a much better quality of water.  Each hospital is required to undertake risk assessments to determine which of their patients are most vulnerable to water borne pathogens and therefore need ‘augmented care’.  Augmented Care wards provide enhanced support for people

  • who are severely immunosuppressed because of disease or treatment: this will include transplant patients and similar heavily immunosuppressed patients
  • those cared for in units where organ support is necessary, for example critical care (adult paediatric and neonatal), renal, respiratory (may include cystic fibrosis units) or other intensive care situations
  • those patients who have extensive breaches in their dermal integrity and require contact with water as part of their continuing care, such as in those units caring for burns

What water tests are undertaken?

Hospitals regularly test for legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacteria and recently Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Total Viable Count, E.coli & Coliforms. Augmented care wards have a higher  frequency and test more outlets.

What happens when bacteria are found in the water?

Engineers form the Estates Department usually have a two part approach.

First they will make the outlets safe either by isolating them or by fitting a special filter which prevents any bacteria from passing to the outlet. Once the immediate threat has been contained they will undertaken further water testing to determine if the bacteria are located in a single taps or the problem extends to the ward or even the whole hospital. Once the full extent is known, a full thermal or chemical disinfection will take place.