Thanks largely to the recent, high-profile protests by Extinction Rebellion and similar groups across the globe, the environmental issues facing the globe have been drawn into sharp focus recently. Whilst the majority of these protests have been focused on climate change, there are also challenges surrounding over-population and the demands that this places on our natural resources.
One of the more underrated issues revolves around the availability and cleanliness of water, which is set to pose considerable problems during the next few decades. In fact, the chief executive of the Environment Agency has warned that the world’s leading nations could run short of water within 25 years, as demand continues to rise at a disproportionate rate to supply.
The cleanliness of water is also a cause for concern, especially in instances where hospitals are unable to access clean water. But why is this important, and how can healthcare providers guarantee their access to a clean water supply?
Why is Clean Water So Important?
Whilst it may seem obvious to suggest that that clean water is a basic necessity in hospitals, it’s important to understand the primary reasons for this.
Most importantly, it’s important to recognise that many people enduring an extended stay in an Australian hospital will have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections that may be caught from staff members, visitors and fellow patients.
Given the higher risk of picking up potentially serious secondary infections, hospitals must take proactive steps to ensure that they safeguard their patients as effectively as possible.
These include accessing a pure and clean water source, as this ensures the high quality microbiological analysis of the food and beverages that patients consume. As a result, patients are less likely to encounter bacteria in their food and drink and compromise their immune system further.
Exploring the Key Risks of Contaminated Water
Without these steps, healthcare providers are increasing the risk that their patients will come into contact with contaminated water. This automatically increases the prevalence of disease and microbiological contamination, along with the type of secondary infections that affect individuals who are already sick.
In addition to waterborne infections, hospitals must also consider the role of water in various surgical and clinical procedures. For example, water plays a pivotal role in the cleaning and sterilisation of surgical instruments, and the prospect of using contaminated tools is horrifying in any healthcare institution.
When treating long-term conditions such as cancer, we should also recognise that unfiltered water is thought to contact 99% more toxic elements. This includes chlorine, which has been linked to the development of many types of cancer such as colon, bladder and rectal.
The Role of Management in Maintaining a Clean Water Supply for Hospitals
Another risk is gastrointestinal disease, which is often linked to the traces of cryptosporidium and giardia found in unfiltered water supplies. Picking up this type of infection can be deadly for patients, so hospitals must strive to mitigate this risk by focusing on the implementation of preventative measures.
To achieve this, hospitals need to ensure a clean supply of drinking water by using a high quality filtration system.
At the same time, maintenance staff require access to tools that can measure the pH level of existing water supplies, with advanced liquid analysis metres currently available through suppliers such as RS Components.
Make no mistake; it’s the task of the hospital’s management and senior administrative staff that are responsible for overseeing these measures, as they look to deploy their budgets wisely and implement the measures that can guarantee a sustainable source of clean water.
Of course, such stakeholders are also reliant on receiving the requisite level of funding from the incumbent government, but these resources must also be used wisely and in a way that proactively prevents the risk of infection.