HydroChem was proud to once again sponsor the recent IHEA national conference held in Perth, Western Australia, in September 2015.

This was a fantastic 3-day event, which showcased cutting edge developments in health infrastructure and innovative solutions to the challenges that hospital engineers encounter in older facilities. The Fiona Stanley Hospital & the Perth Children’s Hospital were the stars of the show.

In this 3 part series we highlight the key takeaways.

One highlight from IHEA in Perth was the discussion of water hygiene in Health Facilities

Evolution of plumbing: What is the Australian Phenomenon? posed a number of questions around the role of chlorinated water and temperature and pressure fluctuations in the failure of polymer based components in plumbing at the Albany Hospital.

Following on from this presentation Mark Collens discussed the various options for disinfecting water. In response to concerns of how chlorination may affect plumbing components, he asserted that in terms of materials best performance is achieved as ranked below. This must be a consideration in your water treatment program.

He ranked material performance from best to worst as follows:

• Stainless Steel

• Poly Vinyl Chloride

• Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride

• Copper

• Polypropylene

• Mild Steel

In his presentation Safe Water in Health care and Patient Environments Scott Wells, from Queensland Health, provided a step by step guide to developing a Risk Management Plan that implements the Queensland Guidelines and is aligned with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Scott pointed out that central to the assessment of risk is identification of hazards and potential hazardous events based on a sound understanding of the plumbing layout and how it interfaces with clinical risks.

The main lessons from implementing risk management plans across the 52 facilities are that:

  • The chlorine residual in mains water varies over time and location
  • Cold water was often stored and distributed at temperatures greater than 25°C and therefore has the potential to be a source of infection
  • The engagement of external providers to provide expertise in chemistry and risk management is necessary

The question remains what is the best approach to achieving disinfection in hospital drinking water systems.

What emerged from all the presentations is that the use of data to inform decision-making is central to improving hospital facility performance. In newer facilities that have access to fully integrated platforms there is an abundance of data, however, improvements can also be made by dedicated engineers in smaller facilities, by manual measurements tracked in Excel.