Legionellosis and water safety

Water within healthcare plumbing systems can promote microbial growth, including multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs). Water can be the source of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Water management programs in healthcare facilities are important to protect vulnerable patients from infections.

Water management programs should include:

  • A multidisciplinary team of facility managers, infection preventionists, clinicians, and administrators who meets regularly to review water management programs.
  • Make sure you meet all quality standards for water entering healthcare facilities (upstream). Work with the water utility to be notified of any water system disruptions that can affect water quality in your facility. Develop plans to mitigate upstream water quality issues.
  • Premise plumbing should be designed and maintained to minimize growth and spread of waterborne pathogens in water (midstream). Map the design of the facility’s water system, identify responses to plumbing with stagnant water, regularly monitor water quality, and identify and respond to any renovations that affect the facility’s plumbing.
  • Implement strategies to minimize patient exposure to waterborne pathogens that can grow in biofilms in sinks, drains, toilets. Splashing from these water sources can disrupt the biofilm and spread these pathogens. Clean and disinfect surfaces in the splash zones near drains, avoid placing patient care or personal items in the splash zone, avoid preparing medication next to a sink, install barriers to prevent splashing from sink to nearby surfaces, offset sink faucet from the drain to prevent splashing of biofilms, do not discard patient waste down sinks, and minimize discarding nutritional products or drinks down sinks or toilets (downstream).