Legionella is a lingering, ever-present bacterium which, in the right breeding conditions, poses a significant health risk and can even cause death.
The disease causing bacteria is found in potable water supplies and flourishes at temperatures between 25 and 45 ºC Unfortunately, this means hospitals are one of the highest risk environments for Legionella as they have large and complex water systems that are difficult to monitor, filter, temper and flush. Couple this with the vulnerability of those using the systems and the threat of Legionella in hospitals intensifies.
Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have created national and worldwide public concern, particularly because of the ease at which an outbreak can occur and its insidious mode of transmission.
A significant outbreak of the disease as recently as February 2015 in New York resulted in the death of 12 people and left at least 100 others infected. Back in 2013 the threat of Legionella hit Australia when contaminated warm water drawn through hospital taps at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital resulted in the death of a patient and left another critically ill in intensive care.
Preventing an outbreak is an ongoing and complex process and while routine maintenance, record keeping and risk management plans are already required as part of the relevant Codes of Practice, Public Health Acts, and Australian Standards for each State, system design and fixture choice can significantly impact prevention control.
And while internal water systems in Australia have traditionally been designed with issues such as legionella control in mind, inconsistency between the minimal design guidelines between States and other various bodies who have regulatory ownership in this space means conflicts can occur.
But the ongoing threat of Legionnaire’s Disease is a very real one and therefore is something which must be addressed by the building and design sector.
Thankfully we are blessed with hindsight and can look to European models that are leading the way in the management of legionella in hospitals.
The UK Department of Health provides comprehensive advice and guidance in a code of practice for the control of Legionella in health water systems, namely the temperatures of which water should be maintained at throughout all of a hospital’s water supply systems.
These practices are focussed around keeping water hot at all times which requires a device for safe delivery and avoiding potential scalding is of serious concern.
For safe delivery, thermostatic mixing valves which mix hot and cold water at the point of use should be used to ensure the water can be kept hot for as long as possible without the risk of scalding.
Enware Australia has now developed the first point-of-use sequential Thermostatic Mixing Valve (TMV) range purpose designed for high risk applications such as hospitals are care facilities.
For more information on how this technology is working to address the threat of Legionella in Australian hospitals, all the while offering superior scald protection and water and energy-saving features, download this free whitepaper: ‘Eliminating Legionella Risk in Healthcare’.