Survey: 50% of Polled Say Linen Loss One of Their Biggest Issues

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — Half of the laundry/linen managers polled in this month’s Wire survey acknowledge that linen loss is one of the biggest operational issues they face, while 20% don’t believe their institutions or companies value their linen enough to commit resources to protect it.
A small minority — 6.7% — says linen loss is their No. 1 problem. Approximately 37% say it’s no worse than any other issue they face. Another small minority – also calculated at 6.7% — says it’s an issue only on rare occasions. No one who responded to that survey question deemed linen loss to be no problem at all.
Respondents were asked to identify the factors that contribute to the linen loss experienced by their institutions or companies or by the customers they service. They were asked in separate questions about factors related to patients or guests and factors related to staff, and were instructed to select all that apply under both categories.
The chief factor among patients or guests, chosen by 70% of respondents, is improper disposal, or throwing away soiled linen before the laundry can attempt to clean it. Following closely at roughly 67% is inadvertent theft (believing items can be taken after a stay or visit). Abuse/improper use (53.3%) and deliberate theft (43.3%) by patients or guests are also significant factors, according to the respondents.
Concerning staff, roughly 74% of respondents chose abuse or improper use as the chief factor contributing to their losses. Inadvertent theft (wearing scrubs or lab coats home, for example) and improper disposal also received significant attention, with each being selected by 56.7%. Deliberate theft was cited by 30%.
Respondents also had the opportunity to select “other” in both categories and offer an explanation. Patient movement – whether it’s a transfer or a discharge – was mentioned frequently here. Several respondents also cited ambulance services that restock from hospital supplies.
Nearly 80% of respondents claim they know the exact cost to purchase and process each linen item traveling through their laundry and can easily compile that information for their end users or customers. Roughly 52% say their laundry utilizes some sort of linen management software to track usage.
Sixty percent of respondents say their laundry offers some type of linen education to their end users or customers. Nearly 80% say their laundry conducts or assists in conducting physical inventories to identify linen loss.
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About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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