Ice machines in a healthcare setting?

Should ice machines in a healthcare setting have bacteriological filters? If so, why?

Generally that decision is needed to be made on a facility/team level. We do not see the need for all healthcare facilities using point-of-use microbiological filters on all ice machines.
The important piece here is to understand the risk at the facility. There are a couple questions that you should consider:

  • Has the facility performed environmental sampling to determine if Legionella is present in the water system or present in ice machines?
  • If yes – has the facility responded to positive results and able to remediate the ice machines (cleaning/disinfecting and then follow up sampling to confirm efficacy)?
  • Does the facility have a water management plan that address routine testing, maintenance, and cleaning of the ice machines?
  • Is there a history of cases of Legionnaire’s disease at the facility?
  • Are there high risk patients using/exposed to any for the ice machines?

All of these questions are important to understand if you should use POU filters on the ice machines. We do know of facilities that have had no issues, yet still use the POU filters as an extra step in managing their facility. Its important to manage the ice machines and understand their risk before making these decisions.