The expert panel investigating a mucormyosis infection at Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) Hong Kong has made recommendations to improve process and practices for laundry services and linen storage, in its report, (dated 6 August) to the Hospital Authority.

In June and July six patients at the hospital were found to be infected and patient linen supplied by the Shum Wan Laundry Centre was suspected as the cause.

The panel’s report found that samples taken during the site visits tested positive for the implicated zygomycetes and the panel believed that these findings correlated with the visibly dusty environment and failure of the washer to reach the set temperature. The report said that the Shum Wen Centre would continue to be suspended.

The report made several recommendations on laundry service and the Hospital Authority said it had implemented three with immediate effect.
Checking temperature sensors on laundry equipment in all laundry centres
Enhanced monitoring of work processes, in particular moisture control, during drying and packing of patient linen.
Stopping the use of starch powder for ironing patient linen.

Other recommendations included periodic, thorough cleaning and sterilising of laundries and delivery vehicles and segregation of used and clean linen.
The panel also recommended that hospitals should follow the first-in first-out principle when using linen, with no topping up. Long-term, periodic microbiological testing of linen would be considered.