The city recently turned off water supplying my hospital, and then turned it back on a couple of hours later. My concern is that the sudden rush of water during the turning on of the water releases biofilms in the water system. Are there any recommendations on what to do within the hospital to those water lines?
Your concern is well-founded. Disruptions within the water distribution system have been linked to outbreaks of hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ disease.
The only way to assuage your concern is to culture the water distribution system of that hospital. Most US academic transplant centers and all hospitals in Maryland and Pittsburgh culture their distal water sites on a regular basis, as do all hospitals in Western Europe. If such a disruption occurred, the water system would be cultured to assess the potential of an influx of Legionella coming into the system. Short-term disinfection could be enacted, and the water re-cultured to ascertain the effectiveness of the disinfection.
You can express your concern to the Infection Control practitioner at your hospital. The Association of Infection Control Practitioners (APIC) Manual recommends routine culturing for Legionella of the hospital water distribution system as an effective preventive measure for Legionnaires’ disease.
As an aside, our Special Pathogens Lab performs environmental cultures for many of the top healthcare centers in the US.