Ultra-violet robot helps hospitals cut rate of infection

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It’s a challenge for busy hospitals around the country: How do you get a sick patient into a room as fast as possible but still ensure the room is sanitized and safe?

Now, new research shows that using a special UV system is an effective way to reduce the risk of contracting C. diff and other life-threatening infections.

Most of us probably don’t pay much attention, but there’s a lot of elbow grease that goes into disinfecting hospital patient rooms.

A new state-of-the-art ultra-violet robot can kill dangerous germs that regular cleaning can’t. The UV lights lock onto the DNA of organisms and wipe them out.

David Pegues, MD, Medical Director of healthcare Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System explained, “What we’re really doing by using this technology is removing germs that we can’t see that we would otherwise miss. Kill them, so that the next patient that is coming into that room isn’t exposed to a risk of catching or acquiring those germs.”

At the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, after the work crew cleans, a robot is deployed in rooms of patients with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients. They may be more susceptible to infectious disease.

Dr. Pegues led a study of the UV cleaning method. “We found the rates and the counts of infections with this. C. difficile, or C. diff, went down 25 percent,” he said.

The robot cleans the room in 16 minutes. Researchers say that doesn’t affect the turnaround time, which is a win for the hospital and also for sick patients waiting to get into a room and leave without getting even sicker.

Dr. Pegues says his study showed the new cleaning interventions saved about $150,000 in annual direct medical costs by reducing the risk of C. diff infection. Every year in the United States, about 500,000 people contract C. diff while hospitalized and nearly 15,000 die as a direct result of that infection.

Clorox healthcare makes the ultra-violet robot that costs tens of thousands of dollars each, but the company negotiates the price with each individual hospital.

Read the research summary