Legionella is a lingering, ever-present bacterium which, in the right breeding conditions poses a significant health risk, causing fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath and can be potentially fatal. Hospitals are one of the highest risk environments for legionella where the large and complex water systems required is coupled with the more vulnerable conditions of the patients within.
Earlier this year traces of legionella bacteria were reported throughout an alarming number of hospitals and health care centres across Queensland. Unsurprisingly these reports coincide with recently introduced legislation in Queensland where test results from every hospital and aged care facility in the state must now be made public.
The new legislation follows the death of a patient at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital in 2013 after legionella contaminated the warm water there.
The introduction of this legislation highlights the need to improve the management and control of health risks associated with water use and supply in hospitals and aged-care facilities to prevent future outbreaks.
The response from the building and design sector will play a critical role in minimising the threat of legionella in hospitals and healthcare facilities now and into the future.
While Australian plumbing codes exist stipulating hot water be stored at no less than 60 degrees Celsius to help prevent the growth of legionella, the fact that warm water lines have become such an ingrained and accepted element of hydraulic design in Australia (where the chances of legionella thriving is significantly increased) coupled with the requirement for water to be cooled before to avoid scalding means preventing an outbreak is far from assured.
Keeping water hot at all times requires a device for safe delivery to avoid potential scalding. Thermostatic mixing valves which mix hot and cold water at the point of use ensure water can be kept hot for as long as possible, without the risk of scalding.
A new infographic from industry leaders in the design and manufacture of purpose built hospital tapware solutions Enware examines the threat of legionella in these environments and what the building and design sector can do to minimise the risk.
Click here to check out the infographic.