Improve the patient and employee experience: No wipes in the pipes

May 25, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

The numbers don’t lie: By flushing disposable wipes down the toilet, patients, families, faculty and staff are flushing away money, time and even the ideal patient experience.

The issue? Wipes — even those labeled ‘flushable’ — don’t disintegrate like toilet tissue. While not all clogs and backups are caused by wipes, they are a significant contributor.

University Hospital, UH South, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital collectively average 300 plumbing backups per month.

“(Facilities & Operations) average about 140 hours a week fixing plumbing backups,” said Michael Hoeflein, business manager for the organization’s maintenance department. “If you estimate an hourly labor rate of $50 per hour, that’s $7,000 per week just fixing toilet backups.”

There’s more than cost and staff resources at stake. A major backup can take a room offline for hours at a time, while even a minor clog that only requires plunging can cause disruption in a patient area or potentially delay care.

“No Wipes” signage is currently being installed in all restrooms throughout the academic medical center. Employees are advised not to flush anything other than toilet paper, even if the product is labeled disposable, and to initiate conversations about proper wipe disposal with employees and patients.

Help Michigan Medicine create the best possible environment for employees and patients — keep the wipes out of the pipes!