Now You See It, Now You Don't: A Campaign to Stop Linen Loss, Part 3

Janice Larson |

Based on the findings documented by the End User Survey, the Replacement Factor Analysis, and the Physical Inventory (see Part 2), a plan of action should be developed to address the losses and the reasons behind them.DEVELOPING AN ACTION PLAN
While the results of the survey will identify specific concerns of individual facilities, there are generic concerns that should be addressed at every facility. The sample action plan below addresses those generic concerns. It identifies general hospital responsibilities, as well as the individual responsibilities of linen distribution personnel, hospital educators and linen end users. Two key tools that need to be included in all action plans are the education of staff and the development of policies to address loss.Sample Action Plan StepsGeneral
- Establish a linen task force
- Assign departmental linen budgets
- Eliminate hoardingLinen Education/Communication
- Employee orientation
- Annual staff In-service
- Independent study
- Linen Awareness Day
- Nursing skills fairApparel Security
- Develop scrub policy
- Limit access to scrubs
- Conduct a Scrub Amnesty DayProduct Use
- Establish a reject policy/program
- Make rags available to departments
- Review red bag policy and practice
- Prevent linen product abuse
- Prevent tape/stain damageDistribution
- Weigh Incoming and outgoing linen
- Use linen management software
- Review and update par levelsDischarge/Transfer
- Limit EMS access to linen
- Limit visitor/patient access to linen
- Establish discharge protocolSecurity
- Secure linen rooms
A key step in every action plan should be to educate the linen end users on their responsibility in preventing unnecessary linen loss. The best place to start the education process is during new-employee orientation. When linen education is included during orientation, it sends a message to new nursing employees that proper use and respect for the linen is important to the facility as a whole. Including preceptors in linen education sessions will provide allies within nursing departments who can reinforce this philosophy.
Thereafter, linen education should be ongoing for all linen users and can be accomplished formally or informally. The formal education can be accomplished through department in-service and nursing skills fairs. Informal education can be accomplished through the use of flyers, posters, newsletter articles, and Linen Awareness Days that stress the importance of linen as a monetary asset and keep the issue of linen loss prevention in the forefront. Change or update posters and flyers frequently in order to keep them from being ignored or invisible.
Much of the data and information that a linen or laundry manager has at their fingertips could supply a newsworthy Linen Tip of the Week/Month in the facility’s newsletter.
Items to include would be the cost to reprocess linen and the amount of linen being sent to the various areas of the hospital every day. This information can be made relevant by equating linen cost to the cost of everyday items with which they are familiar. For example, “The amount of linen supplied to the ER on a daily basis is equal to the cost of purchasing a brand new television set every day.” You may also include comments about the progress of individuals and departments that are actively participating in controlling linen cost.COST TO USE/COST TO LOSE ANALYSIS
Linen education should also include information on item cost. To encourage the effective and rational consumption of linen, it’s essential that nurses view linen as a consumable medical supply with an associated cost per use. End users must also be made to understand that every time a linen item is used, there’s an associated cost per use. Every time an article of linen leaves the facility, the purchase of a replacement piece is required.
The Cost to Use/Cost to Lose Analysis provides the data that can help facilitate this understanding. Necessary components of this analysis are purchase price per item, product weight per item, expected number of uses per item and processing rate per pound.Cost to Use
(Weight of Item × Laundry Processing Cost per Pound)
+ (Purchase Price ÷ Expected Number of Uses)Cost to Use a Spread Blanket
Weight: 2.5 lbs.
Laundry Processing Cost: $0.36/lb.
2.5 × $0.36 = $0.90
Purchase Price: $8.97 each
Expected number of uses: 37.5
$8.97 ÷ 37.5 = $0.24
$0.90 + $0.24 = $1.14(The expected number of uses is another piece of data that is available from Comparative Operating Revenues and Expense Profile for the Healthcare Textile Maintenance Industry from Phillips & Associates.)Cost to Lose
(Weight of Item × Laundry Processing Cost) + Purchase PriceCost to Lose a Spread Blanket
$0.90 + $8.97 = $9.87
A spread blanket is one of the costliest items to use, since it’s one of the heaviest items in the bed makeup. It’s also one of the costliest items to replace. Knowing the costs associated with the use and replacement of spread blankets will help nurses make judicious decisions about when to use them and how to keep them from leaving the facility.

About the author

Janice Larson

Encompass Group LLC

Vice President, Clinical Resources and Consulting

Janice Larson is vice president of Clinical Resources and Consulting at ‎Encompass Group LLC.


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