Archive November 2016 XVII, No. 11

Missed a Spot?

From UV robots to vapor fogging with hydrogen peroxide, a review of your whole-room disinfection options.

Sarah Handzel

Sarah Handzel, RN


manual clean HUMAN TOUCH Equipment and surfaces are frequently missed during a manual clean.

The UV robots come out at night at Florida Hospital Tampa. After the cleaning crew terminally cleans the ORs, they wheel in their secret weapon against infection: 5 germ-destroying robots whose intense ultraviolet light kills the pathogens that manually cleaning might have missed.

"It's not a replacement for traditional terminal cleaning, but a safeguard for areas missed by human error," says Ralph Taylor, MS, MHA, director of surgical services. "It's my safety blanket."

UV light disinfection is just one of a growing number of automated technologies that finish the critical job of room disinfection and help prevent healthcare-associated infections. Which whole-room disinfection solution is right for your facility? Here's a review.

Germ-zapping robots
These robots emit UV-C radiation that destroys pathogenic organisms by damaging their cellular DNA. Organisms are responsive to UV radiation based on a number of factors, including the type of organism, temperature of the surrounding environment, and the UV light intensity and wavelength.

Some UV robots only emit radiation continuously on one specific wavelength, like mercury UV robots. Other, newer models emit UV light in a pulse across the entire spectrum of UV light, and some studies suggest that these types of robots are more effective in decreasing hospital-acquired infections in non-ICU areas.

The robotic systems are portable and can easily move from room to room. Some generate reports to verify which rooms have been treated, who the robot operator was, how often the room was cleaned and how much time was spent disinfecting the room. Certain facilities also choose to permanently install overhead UV lights for disinfection purposes. Similar to other overhead light fixtures, these UV lights are designed to provide continuous UV radiation to small rooms and surgical suites. They're effective in killing pathogens on surfaces in as little as 5 minutes.

"The speed in which the robots were able to accomplish the kill dose was much quicker (than other methods)," says Ann Marie Pettis, RN, BSN, CIC, director of infection prevention at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center." Most of our rooms took 15 to 20 minutes to disinfect."

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