Laundering - Guidelines For Surgical Scrubs or other Surgical/Procedural Attire

Does the Joint Commission require employers to commercially launder surgical scrubs and other surgical attire?

For surgical scrubs or other surgical attire not visibly contaminated, organizations can choose between home laundering (acceptable per CDC/HICPAC) or a healthcare-accredited laundry facility (recommended per AORN). For all visibly contaminated clothing, the employer must be responsible for laundering per OSHA standards. Your organization should develop a policy addressing how they will manage this process and what guidelines they are following which will drive our survey process.
  • IC.01.05.01 EP 1 requires organizations to follow evidence-based national guidelines. The two main guidelines regarding this topic do not agree, therefore an organization may choose one or the other:
    • CDC/HICPAC Recommendation Laundry and Bedding I. Employer Responsibilities A. Employers must launder workers' personal protective garments that are contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials. (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030). There is no stated guidance on garments that are not contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials.
    • AORN’s 2015 Guideline for Surgical Attire Recommendation II States: All individuals who enter the semi-restricted and restricted areas should wear scrub attire that has been laundered at a health care-accredited laundry facility or disposable scrub attire provided by the facility and intended for use within the perioperative setting.
  • LD.04.01.01 EP 2 requires compliance with law and regulation. The OSHA Blood borne Pathogen Act requires all visibly contaminated clothing, including scrubs or personally owned items, be laundered by the employer at no cost to the employee. See section 1910.1030(d)(3)(iv).
For laundering of all other textiles, such as patient linens, etc., organizations must comply with local and state health requirements, industry standards and/or guidelines published by professional organizations that focus on safe management of healthcare linen services.
Last updated on August 19, 2016
Manual: Critical Access Hospital
Chapter: Infection Prevention and Control IC

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