From the June 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Many health care administrators and infection preventionists wonder if UV-C light technology is an expensive gimmick or if it is a necessary device for improving outcomes and aiding in reducing health care-acquired infections (HAIs).
Many UV-C disinfection products look more like robot characters from a "Star Wars" movie than a piece of lifesaving medical equipment, leaving health care staff wondering if these portable and expensive innovations are real and effective. And if you are like most financially frugal hospitals, spending on more technology that will slow down the environmental services technicians (EVS) is out of the question, especially if the equipment does not work effectively to eliminate risks of HAIs.
Every manufacturer touts the difference in their equipment’s UV-C spectrum delivery. One manufacturer has three UV-C lights that hook together for moving through the corridors and then separate in the room scheduled for treatment. This allows more surface area to be lit with the disinfecting rays. Another manufacturer offers a pulsed light that claims to be more effective in disrupting multi-drug-resistant organisms. Some manufacture equipment with more bulbs while others produce shorter and more compact machines. All, however, make the claim that their technology will reduce harmful bacteria, provide cleaner, safer rooms and be worth the investment for both the cost of the equipment and the additional EVS time.
With a combination of the various types of HAIs costing hospitals roughly $15,000 to $45,000 per case, all health care staff needs to be invested in making treatment and patient rooms safer. Recently the American Journal of Infection Control
published a scientific article on the effectiveness of two automated UV-C emitting devices. The study focused on the reduction of methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and Clostridium difficile (CD).
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“Prior to cleaning, 34.4 percent of rooms cultured positive on any one surface for MRSA, 29.5 percent tested positive for VRE and 31.8 percent tested positive for CD; manually cleaning did not significantly change these results. UV-C disinfection, however, reduced the percentage of MRSA, VRE, and CD to 3.3 percent, 4.9 percent and 0 percent, respectively,” according to the study’s authors.
Additionally, CD spores survive routine environmental cleaning with detergents and hand hygiene with alcohol-based gels. So even though patients and visitors may think hand sanitizers are keeping them safe, the spores often remain on their hands and are transferred to other surfaces. Patients housed in rooms previously occupied by patients with a drug-resistant organism have been shown to be at risk for acquiring drug resistant organisms. This demonstrates that the environment is a critical source of contamination and that it enhances the potential for the spread of infection.