Unleashing robots on the Superbugs

By: January 5th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

Of all the new technologies emerging in the fight against healthcare-acquired infections, the one that has caught my eye quite a bit lately has been these machines that disinfect a hospital room by bathing it in ultraviolet (UV) light.

Since the Ebola scare broke back in October, there isn’t a day that goes by that my inbox isn’t bombarded with ads and press releases about these so-called “germ-zapping robots” that promise to eradicate all infections in the healthcare environment.

Hardly new technology, UV technology has been used for quite some time in healthcare as an effective addition to a robust infection control program. Essentially, by exposing the bugs to energy equivalent to more than 25,000 times the energy that we would get in a day in the sun at the beach, the machines give them a really bad sunburn and keep the bugs from reproducing.

Considering that by some estimates, human housekeepers can only get about 50 percent of exposed surfaces and that the UV “terminators” boast success rates of up to 80 percent or more when it comes to reducing the rate of pesky infections such as C.difficile, it seems to me that this technology deserves more than a passing glance.

They are not cheap tools, and with a price tag of about $100,000, only the more well-financed hospitals seem able to afford it. Smaller medical clinics, however, are being viewed more and more as the front lines in healthcare and infections before only seen in hospitals are increasingly creeping into the clinics.

That being said, it’s important to make sure clinics are also following strict infection control protocols, and some manufacturers are making smaller UV robots that can be attained for as low as $20,000, or rented on a temporary basis.

I’d like to know if your facility has taken advantage of this technology, or has considered it. What are the advantages and disadvantages, and what are the things that are driving your decisions or holding you back? I’d like to hear your success stories.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jpalmer@hcpro.com.

Happy New Year!

John Palmer




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