Disinfecting Robots Stop Superbug Infections

Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing, but for many, just being inside one is a danger.

About two-million Americans suffer from hospital-acquired infections every year, adding a whopping 30 billion dollars to health care costs. But, now there's a new way hospitals are reducing the risk.

You can't see them, but they are everywhere. Dangerous bacteria that could make you sick and even kill.

"I really felt like I was dying,” says Ellen Blackwell. “I was very sick."

Ellen Blackwell had C-Diff, an infection that causes severe diarrhea, fevers, pain, and cramping.

Superbugs, like the one Ellen contracted, are common in hospitals across the country, killing about 100,000 patients each year.

"These organisms are smart,” explains Sasha Madison, MPH, the Director of the Infection Prevention Program at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “They're always a step ahead of us."

But now, this Xenex robot aims to outsmart even the toughest strains of bacteria. First, hospital workers spend about 45 minutes cleaning and disinfecting.

"Following that, we bring this machine in to further disinfect the room," says Brad Igler from Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

The robot uses UV pulsating light to disrupt an organism's DNA , killing spores, bacteria, viruses, and mold. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes per room.

"So what we're trying to do is bring those organisms way, way, way down," says Madison.

It can be used in patient rooms, the ER, and even operating rooms. In one study, researchers found the robot reduced surface contamination in the OR by 81 percent and air contamination by 46 percent.

"We have a higher level of assurance than that room is truly the cleanest it can be for our patients," says Madison.

About 100 hospitals across the country have the disinfecting robots. An average-sized hospital, with about 120 beds, would need two Xenex devices to clean all its rooms.

Each one costs about $80,000, and can be bought or leased.

Disinfecting Robots Stop Superbug Infections
REPORT #2038

HOSPITAL INFECTIONS: It is estimated that between 5 to 10 percent of patients will obtain a hospital-acquired disease during their stay. Hospitals are supposed to be the safest place for getting healthy, but they are one of the most susceptible for contracting bacteria. MRSA and pneumonia are only a few infections that may be contracted during a patient's hospital stay. Not to say that hospitals are not clean or are not being taken care of, but the constant change of illness between patients brings hospital workers to think about what else can be done to keep rooms clean. (Source: www.ncsl.org)

C-DIFFICILE: This hospital-borne bacterium typically affects older adults that have had an extended stay in a hospital. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and significant pain. Now, doctors are noticing that C. difficile is affecting younger patients during their hospital stay and it is expected for more than half a million people will become sick from C. difficile this year. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)

XENEX ROBOT: The Xenex robot was designed to clean what hospitals workers cannot clean manually. This machine oscillates UV light into each room, executing any remaining bacteria, mold, viruses, and spores. Although this robot carries an expensive price tag, it has decreased the number of patients who develop C. difficile by 67 percent. It is placed in a bathroom, patient room, or operating room and is left alone for 5-10 minutes, depending on room size. Then it projects quick flashes of UV light to kill strains of bacteria. In the end, this will not only save hospitals money, but it will save lives. (Source: www.xenex.com)

CASE STUDY: Cone Health is a not-for-profit network of healthcare providers in North Carolina, with over 100 locations. Moses Cone's experienced a 56 percent reduction in MRSA rates after implementing Xenex as part of a bundle approach to preventing the transmission of MRSA.

For More Information, Contact:

Ashley Georgian
Senior Media Relations Manager
Stanford Hospital & Clinics
650-725-6625
ageorgian@stanfordmed.org

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