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J Hosp Infect. 2004 Oct;58(2):155-8.

Provision of safe potable water for immunocompromised patients in hospital.

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Department of Infection Control, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, Leeds, UK.


We conducted a survey of hospital drinking water provision for patients with immunocompromising conditions in 15 Trusts in the north of England. Ten trusts replied, reporting on provision of drinking water in 14 separate units. Of these, nine provided only tap water to all patients, irrespective of underlying condition. In two units, iced water, with ice from commercially available makers, was used. Five units distinguished between neutropenic and non-neutropenic patients, with the former group receiving cooled, boiled water (three units), sterile water and sterile water or carbonated water (one unit each). No unit provided filtered water. Water in jugs was changed daily, twice daily or only when empty in seven, three and four units, respectively. On 10 units, patients were allowed to provide their own drinking water, but no unit provided written advice to patients on potable water. A survey within our own Trust revealed similar inter-unit disparity. The options for potable water provision were reviewed, taking into account: microbiological quality, organoleptic (perceived taste/smell) acceptability, cost and factors relating to staff safety and patient confidentiality [as it was possible for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seropositive patients on some wards to be identified because they were provided with cooled, boiled water]. It concluded that end-line commercially available water filters were the optimal way to provide drinking water to immunocompromised patients in hospital.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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