Robots that shoot ultraviolet light onto room surfaces reduce rates of hospital-acquired infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms or Clostridium difficile, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Ultraviolet disinfection (UVD) technology employs mercury bulb devices or pulsed xenon bulbs, the latter of which the researchers began using in May 2011 at a 643-bed New York hospital, with infection prevention, environmental services and performance management teams monitoring the results weekly.
The more than 11,000 uses of UVD between July 2011 and April 2013 resulted in a 20% decrease in overall hospital-acquired infections related to multidrug-resistant organisms, including Clostridium difficile. These results were obtained despite the researchers missing nearly a quarter of the opportunities to employ the technology.
Adult inpatient rooms at the hospital are routinely cleaned with sodium hypochlorite 0.55% disinfectants and pediatric rooms are cleaned with a quaternary ammonium compound. During the study period, UVD was added to the regimen.
Study lead author Janet P. Haas, PhD, RN, director of infection prevention and control at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., says that because UVD enhances cleaning elsewhere, it could plausibly do the same in ORs. However, she warns the clinical evidence for using UVD in the operating room is less compelling, and more research is needed fully asses the utility of applying the technology in surgical care areas.