Water quality is not something we give a lot of thought to in the US; we tend to feel secure knowing that we have access to plentiful and what we believe to be clean water everywhere we go. But do we have any reason to believe our water is always safe for consumption? More importantly, do we know that our municipal water is safe for rinsing semi-critical devices, like TEE probes and endoscopes, so as to retain high-level disinfection status?
In 2016, the nation became aware of a terrible water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Their municipal water was tainted with high levels of lead, a heavy metal neurotoxin which can cause serious medical conditions like infertility, kidney failure, and even death. This crisis may have even been linked to a spike in Legionnaires’ disease at the time, which affected 87 people and killed 12 (two more died after the date of this report).
As a result of this incident, various studies were launched into the safety of drinking water around the country. A report from USA Today in 2016 found that almost 2,000 systems in the country had, “excessive lead levels from 2012 through 2015.” Those systems supply water to nearly 6 million people. Furthermore, the report stated, “Drinking-water contaminants also included bacteria, nitrates, arsenic and copper, all of which present potentially serious health risks if people ingest excessive levels in water.”
How This Affects Healthcare
A compromised water supply can have huge impacts on healthcare, hurting patients and even affect a facility’s bottom line.
If unclean water is used to rinse semi-critical devices, patients can be exposed to harmful pathogens, like including Legionella, Pseudomonas, and Mycobacterium Chelonae. This can lead to severe complications up to and including death, especially for weaker patients with an already compromised immune system. It would be devastating to a facility and its workers to know that they had been responsible for infecting a patient and causing harm rather than bringing healing.
Additionally, unclean water can hurt a facility’s reputation and revenue. About one third of consumers use social media to seek medical information and share about their doctors and 41% say that social media affects their choice of medical facility. Additionally, “90 percent of people 18 to 24 years old trust medical information they find on social media.” One patient infected with a waterborne pathogen could seriously impact a provider’s reputation. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states that facilities must implement policies and procedures that reduce the risk of spread of waterborne pathogens; if they do not, it may result in, "the curtailment of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements."
While being able to snap your fingers and make all the water in your facility sparkling clean would be ideal, it’s not going to happen. One of the best and most cost-effective actions a facility can take is to filter the water used for patient consumption and, especially, for use when rinsing semi-critical devices. In order to help healthcare facilities focus on the big job of getting patients healthy, CS Medical has engineered each TEEClean® Automated TEE Probe Cleaner Disinfector to incorporate an FDA-cleared 5-nanometer water filter. This same water filter is actually used for patients undergoing hemodialysis, a procedure that requires extremely pure water to ensure patient safety.
Since each TEEClean is outfitted with this same filter, all the water that goes into the unit has been cleaned of all bacteria, viruses, and endotoxins. This can help give healthcare facilities peace of mind knowing that their TEE probes are rinsed with clean water and minimize the risk of spreading healthcare associated infections to patients.