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Archive COVID-19 2021

Making the Case for Whole Room Disinfection

Supplement manual cleaning with high-tech solutions to ensure ORs are sterile and sanitized.

Danielle Bouchat-Friedman, Associate Editor


Matthew Patterson
LIGHT THE WAY UV lights use short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA.

High-tech cleaning devices such as UV lights and hydrogen peroxide misting machines aren't new to surgery. Facilities have used these products for years. But the effects of COVID-19 brought these devices to the forefront and moved whole room disinfection closer to the standard of care. Experts say it's important to supplement manual cleaning with high-tech systems, not only because they work, but also because staff and patients feel safer when they're used. Below, a couple environmental services directors dish on whole room cleaning technologies that help keep ORs COVID-free.

UV lights

This disinfection method uses short-wavelength ultraviolet (ultraviolet C or UV-C) light to kill or inactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA, leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions. "You have to calculate through dose verification cards or UV light meters to determine the run time for a certain area," says Matthew Patterson, system director of environmental services for St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Ky. "We use this on all isolations and terminal and cycle cleaning."

His team utilizes small UV light wands after the standard cleaning of surfaces. They also use a large UV light kit to sanitize entire rooms, which takes about 15 minutes for a standard OR. Before COVID hit, Mr. Patterson already had 10 UV light systems in his disinfection arsenal. Thanks to the pandemic, however, he's more than doubled that number, which is now up to 25. Mr. Patterson also installed UV lights on keyboards and at nurses' stations, one of the dirtiest areas in the entire hospital. "In my opinion, the most effective disinfection tool is UV light," he says. "However, they do require the OR to be empty when they are in use. They are expensive, too; the cheapest one I have found is around $25,000," he says.

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