Legionnaires’ Disease is especially dangerous for the elderly, frail and those with compromised immune systems. Therefore, it is essential that all hospitals and healthcare premises be vigilant, carry out regular testing and take steps to prevent outbreaks – otherwise, they are not only putting their patients’ lives at risk, they are also leaving their company at risk of prosecution.
Bupa was fined £3m in 2018 after the death of a pensioner at one of its care homes. The judge found the care home lacking in its duty of care, having ignored warning signs of Legionella for around three years. There are also numerous news stories of healthcare providers being fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for their failure to protect patients from the bacteria.
Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 04-01: Safe water in healthcare premises
The government’s Health Technical Memorandum 04-01 is a three-part guide to the legal requirements, applications, maintenance and operation of safe water supply systems in healthcare premises. Part B covers operational management with specific reference to Legionella and other waterborne pathogens.
The control measures the report recommends focus on temperature control. Given that Legionella thrives in temperatures between 20 and 45oC, cold water supplies need to be kept at a temperature lower than 20oC and hot water needs to be kept above 60oC in order to be able to reach the outlet at a minimum of 55oC.
However, in healthcare facilities, the water systems are typically more complex, making it more difficult to control waterborne pathogens by temperature alone. HTM 04-01 guidance suggests using additional control measures such as chemical and other water treatments, as well as ongoing monitoring.
This is especially important in augmented care settings where patients are immunosuppressed and particularly vulnerable. The Memorandum gives guidance for additional safety measures in Part C, advising that training should not be confined to just the medical and care staff: “Management should ensure that all staff with responsibility for cleaning should be adequately trained and made aware of the importance of high standards of cleanliness”.
We are experienced in Legionella testing and prevention in healthcare and augmented care facilities. If you would like to outsource your risk assessment and maintenance to an experienced professional company, contact us to find out more.