Infection Control Corner: Is Ultraviolet Equipment a Gimmick or an Innovation?
Many health care administrators and infection prevention wonder if UV-E light technology is an expensive gimmick or if it is a necessary device for improving outcomes and aiding in reducing health care-acquired infections (HAls).
Many UV—C disinfection poducb look more like robot character 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 HAls.
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 HAls costing hospitals roughly $1 5,000 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).
“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.
While 0V-C is an effective tool to use to reduce HAls that are derived from patient exposure to remaining bacteria, it does not replace manually cleaning and disinfecting the room first. Consequently. humans and robots (or at least strange looking equipment) will need to work together. Cleaning and disinfecting must be completed prior to UV-C treatment since the UV—C light will not penetrate remaining bio—burden on surfaces. Physically cleaning and disinfecting remains a critical pre-UV-C treatment task the two must remain connected.There are a wide varied of chemical disinfectants approved for use in hospitals.
The most commonly used surface disinfectants are quaternary ammonium compounds and sodium hypochlorite. The effectiveness of chemical disinfectants can depend both upon the antimicrobial activity of the disinfectant and appropriate application, including adequacy of cleaning, appropriate contact time and concentration of the disinfectant.
UV-C is not a gimmick, and when used in the proper sequence, can live up to the spaceage look. The goal is to reduce patient exposure to antibiotic—resistant organisms (AROs) and provide a safe environment for patients and using new technology with tried—and— true training techniques will ultimately save lives and create quality outcomes.
“This article was published in the June 2016 issue of Healthcare Business News.”