Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Single-use bedding for hospitals

Use for one patient, then send to compost
  [vote for,

Hospital bedding has to be washed at a high temperature to kill pathogens, which could otherwise lead to new infections in patients.

The cost, energy, and environmental impact of hospital laundry is significant.

In many cases, it actually works out better to use a “single use” biodegradable product rather than cleaning and sterilising a multi-use product.

This idea then is to provide cheap, low carbon biodegradable single-use bedding for hospitals and similar institutions.

Frankx, Oct 30 2019

Costs of building and running a hospital https://www.healthi...tion_v1.0_final.pdf
OpEx figures on page 27 [Frankx, Oct 30 2019, last modified Oct 31 2019]

Linen cost per patient-day https://soriantsolu...ital-linen-savings/
Actually, this report suggests somewhere nearer $8 per day for linen [Frankx, Oct 30 2019]

2 - 3% on linen https://www.healthc...aging-costs-laundry
[Frankx, Oct 30 2019]


       You will have to make sure that the sheets don't bio-degrade underneath the patient (I don't know how frequently beds are changed for long-term patients; thankfully it's been a long time since I've stayed in a hospital).
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 30 2019

       Given the efficiency (or lack of it) of the NHS, this could be neatly extended by providing victims with a multi-purpose bedding/shroud kit on admission, then they can stay on a trolley in a corridor until it's time to wheel them off to the mortuary so the pathologist can make an accurate diagnosis of what's wrong with them.
8th of 7, Oct 30 2019

       //In many cases, it actually works out better to use a “single use” biodegradable product rather than cleaning and sterilising a multi-use product.//   

       Hmmm. Do you have evidence of that? Bear in mind that hospital laundry is generally done in huge batches, so the per- item energy (and other) cost is small.   

       Also, if this were true, would not hotels be a larger market?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 30 2019

       Hotel guests expect, indeed demand, comfort. Hospital patients typically have quite different priorities ... uncomfortable bedding is probably lower down the list than, for example, getting a bed of any sort, or some food that's more than half edible ...   

       Most are preoccupied with trying to get the attention of a member of staff, if they can spot one.
8th of 7, Oct 30 2019

       The linked document is invaluable, and I shall rely heavily on it the very next time I build a hospital. However, I was not able to find any mention of laundry or linen therein.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 30 2019

       Operational expenditure (on staffing, cleaning, feeding, heating, powering etc) for a typical hospital looks to be around £80 per bed per night [link] That seems reasonable for an order of magnitude.   

       Laundry costs appear to be up to 3% of that, so around £900 per bed per year.   

       Hospital bedding doesn’t get changed every day, but perhaps £3.00 per set of single-use linen would be cost-effective in comparison with laundry.   

       In terms of environmental impact: i’m struggling to find good quantified evidence. I’ll keep on it. Qualitatively though, I know that it’s argued that (for instance) single-use paper plates have a lower environmental burden that ceramic crockery, because the energy used in washing each time is greater than the resources used to make (distribute, and dispose of) a paper plate.   

       Finally, why don’t hotels... I suspect that that is down to the perception of quality. If I stayed in a hotel that had disposable paper sheets, I would make a judgement in comparison to one that had finest Egyptian high-thread-count cotton.   

       For most guests in a hospital, I suspect spending £3 more per night on medical care or diagnostic equipment would be more important than quality sheets.
Frankx, Oct 30 2019

       [MB] - typical laundry expenditure is apparently 3% of OpEx. I’ll have to re-find the link for that.   

       The link provided (amongst all the CapEx discussions) gives hospital OpEx per bed per night.
Frankx, Oct 30 2019

       //3% of OpEx//   

       Hang on. I'm running a state-of-the-art hospital with doctors, surgeons, nurses and even some medical experts. I have an MRI, a CAT, an ATC and a machine that goes "ping!". I run a meals service, a floor-cleaning service, an information management service and, when I get time, even a medical service. I have a pharmacy, a mortuary, and a refectory. I have clinical waste segregation, hazardous waste disposal, and a chapel. And THREE PERCENT of my budget goes on laundry?   

       The solution, shirley, is not disposable bed linen, but a woman called Lynne with a high-capacity washing machine and a passion for hot-wash cycles.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 30 2019

       Don't forget to factor in the cost of dealing with the soiled underwear when the auditors turn up unannounced to check tbe stock of controlled drugs ...
8th of 7, Oct 30 2019


       “The American Reusable Textile Association reports that 2 percent to 3 percent of a hospital’s budget is spent on laundry services, including all linen and textiles, but some facilities achieve greater savings through efficient processes.   

       The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which rents its linen, spends a little less than 1 percent (about $15 million) of its total expenses (which include supplies, drugs and purchased services) on linen services”   

       Lynne is going to be very busy.
Frankx, Oct 30 2019

       One per-cent still seems high, but is at least plausible.   

       I'm pretty sure that the Buchanan Estate spends much less than 1% of its running costs on laundry - and we're not even offering any expensive medical services.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 30 2019

       Ahem ... your second cousin Voluptua offers "Medical Services" at a seemingly rather high price, although we understand from third parties that she does promise "complete satisfaction to discerning gentlemen ".   

       The nurses's uniform - what there is of it - certainly does suit her, though. Is the latex preferable to woven cloth for hygiene reasons, or just because it doesn't show stains ?   


       Where did she do her medical training ? It's just that she has an unusual way of carrying her stethoscope. It can't be very comfortable, and it's probably not very hygienic ...   

8th of 7, Oct 30 2019

       //"Medical Services" at a seemingly rather high price// I did tell her to give you a discount. I'll have a word.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2019

       Ta. Does she do requests ? It's just that we have a genuine Seven of Nine one-piece lycra suit we ... obtained ... at a charity auction and we think she'd look good in it.   

       // Bleached and steamed //   

       Are both necessary ?   

       There are several objectives; to remove unsightly stains, and to kill all pathogens and destroy toxins, rendering them biologically inert. The second is actually more important.   

       Autoclaving does a pretty good job of destroying bugs, as does ethylene oxide. Chlorine is fairly good but can have a destructive effect on some materials - but it does also bleach stains.   

       "You pays your money ... "
8th of 7, Oct 31 2019

       //we have a genuine Seven of Nine one-piece lycra suit// She won't touch lycra with nine foot pole. Well, she will but it costs extra.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2019

       Would she accept the I.O.U. on Sturton's other kidney ?   

       On further consideration, laundry could be radiation-sterilized and then put through an ordinary low-temperature wash. That makes an excellent commercial case for building combined hospitals and nuclear power plants. Hmmmm ....
8th of 7, Oct 31 2019

       //Would she accept the I.O.U. on Sturton's other kidney ? // Yes, but she'll have to make her own arrangements to get it out of the bloke he sold it to.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2019

       //The Andromeda Strain wore paper jumpsuits that were incinerated and replaced daily//   

       Because as we all know, paper's tear-resistance and impermeability is second to none.
Loris, Nov 03 2019

       // second to none. //   

       So you're in favour of working in the nude ?   

       Nothing wrong with that per se, although it would make for quite a different movie ...
8th of 7, Nov 03 2019

       College students have been creating compostable bedsheets for years, though it tends to be an unintentional consequence of their lifestyle.
8th of 7, Nov 04 2019

       How about a single-use hospital? You're sick, and a crate gets delivered to your door with a full range of diagnostics, surgical instruments and therapeutics. The crate also contains one doctor but, for reasons of employment law, the doctor is considered reuseable.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 04 2019

       Oh no, this sounds like another of your money-making schemes* ...   

       Our guess is that there will indeed be a "Doctor" but they will be a Doctor of Divinity and a recent alumnus of the University of St. Kitts and Nevis (USD$ 9.99 plus shipping and handling, framed in a genuine simulated plastic-effect frame for an extra USD$12.99) and the ink on their diploma will be barely dry ...   

       *No, you can not have another go with our replicator. "Making money" is meant to involve personal effort and economic activity, not simply making exact duplicates of any currency you have immediately to hand.
8th of 7, Nov 04 2019

       I tried your replicator. I was surprised at how large it was - just about big enough to contain one person and a few accessories. The "replica" £20 note was not even the right size, and looked suspiciously crayon-drawing-like. I'd also like to point out that the original was not returned.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 04 2019

       We gave it to Sturton. He told us you told him to ask for it. He has the original, and the replicated one.   

       He promised faithfully ...
8th of 7, Nov 04 2019

       [Chairborne Hero]... acknowledging it’s baked. Your Google-Fu is strong! Shame to lose those annotations though.
Frankx, Nov 05 2019

       Just leave it in place. Unless marked for deletion, there's no need to delete it.
xenzag, Nov 05 2019

       There is a category [halfbakery:archive] for ideas that are redundant but which are considered worth keeping for reasons of annotations, useful links etc.
8th of 7, Nov 05 2019

       Ahh... thank you [8th], that's where it will go.
Frankx, Nov 05 2019

       Yes, the Sargasso Sea of Lost Ideas. A bit like Milton Keynes, but more interesting.
8th of 7, Nov 05 2019

       // On further consideration, laundry could be radiation-sterilized //   

       Regular radiation sterilization of the entire hospital building and equipment would solve so many superbug problems, although my understanding is that one would have to know the responsive of one's target bacteria to types and levels of radiation.
4and20, Nov 06 2019

       //one would have to know the responsive [sic] of one's target bacteria to types and levels of radiation//   

       Not really. The dose needed to kill practically any bacterium is known, so you just use that dose. One problem is that buildings often contain inconvenient things like walls or floors, which will block a lot of the radiation. Another problem is that you might end up evolving a new pathological version of Deinococcus radiodurans.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 06 2019

       Don't forget viruses; intense radiation will not only kill bacteria and their spores, but destroy the RNA in viruses. It doesn't "kill" them because they're not really "alive" in any meaningful sense, they're just nasty little self-replicating strands of nucleic acids, like journalists but more socially useful and with a more highly developed moral sense.   

       // inconvenient things like walls or floors, which will block a lot of the radiation. //   

       Hence our "CHP" idea with its ingeniously engineered "Venitian blind" shielding scheme around the reactor primary containment vessels.
8th of 7, Nov 06 2019

       So...we're thinking that knowing the responsiveness of commonly deadly bacteria wouldn't ameliorate the problem of creating bacterial mutations with radiation, and even if we could, we could still cause problems with undead viruses? How's that radiation sterilization of bedding working out for ya?
4and20, Nov 06 2019

       The answer is clearly to deliver the radiation dose in units of Megatonnes ...
8th of 7, Nov 06 2019

       A high enough dose will kill pretty much everything (though it needs to be a _very_ high dose for Deinococci; then again they're not dangerous). Viruses will indeed also be inactivated. (But, FTR, many viruses have DNA; only some are RNA, not that it makes any difference in this case.)   

       On the plus side, if you leave the patients in situ during the treatment, none of them will die from infectious disease.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 06 2019


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