Setting up a water risk management scheme could help healthcare institutions and hospitals to reduce risk regarding legionella and meet regulations to greatest extent.
What is Legionella And How Does It Spread?
Legionella is a kind of microorganism that we can find naturally in freshwater environments, like small rivers and lakes. It can become a health issue from the moment it spreads and grows in human-made building water systems.
After Legionella multiplies and expands in a building water system, water with Legionella then spreads in drops that are small enough for everyone to breathe in. People, who breathe in small drops of water present in the atmosphere and containing these microorganisms, can be affected by pontiac fever or legionnaires’ disease.
Uncommonly, people can also be affected through the inhalation of drinking water containing Legionella. It happens if water accidentally goes into the lungs whilst drinking. People mainly concerned are those with swallowing problems.
Generally, people don’t spread pontiac fever or legionnaires’ disease to other people. Nevertheless, it still might be possible under rare circumstances.
These are the seven steps to follow to create a water risk management scheme:
1. Form a Team
Make up a team to think and write water management procedures and plans to supervise the application of the water risk management programme. Who should be part of this team? A facility manager, a hospital executive and an infection inspector with an adequate legionella training. Healthcare institutions should also take into account team members from occupational and environmental safety, nursing management and other fields.
2. Draw Up The Water System
The team should create a water system flow chart of the whole building’s water system. This chart could help the team to identify high-risk patient care areas and potential dangerous conditions. Healthcare institutions can use current plumbing drawings if obtainable. However, these ones are often too difficult to employ for risk evaluations. Simplified drawings are often more convenient.
3. Identify Risks
The team should always review the water flow chart to identify potential risks. It’s important to look for places where there’s stagnant or slow water, and, especially the areas involving patients who have reduce immunity levels. It’s also important to identify both the systems and equipment at risk and the patient populations at risk to have an overview.
4. Create Strategies To Reduce The Risks
The team should employ a risk management strategy to identify control locations and limits. Control limits can refer to characteristics like water temperature, disinfectant residual, density of pathogen, water flow rate, or any other identified measurements.
5. Control And Respond
The team should create control procedures to keep an eye on the control limit information. If there are deviations outside of the set control limits, the team has to think of response procedures, like heating, filtering, disinfectant, cooling, or flushing water. Other treatment options are available in specialized books or websites and should be consider by the team. The team should also create standard operating methods to help mitigate risks.
6. Assess Regularly
The team should develop methods which will confirm that the risk management scheme is effective. This confirmation could take the form of a spreadsheet that shows specific steps of the water management scheme which are assessed with the team every time anomalies happen.
In every steps, each activities have to be documented. Documentation should contain every parts of the scheme, and it should also be maintained and updated.