hospitals using new tool to fight the spread of deadly infections

Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities that fail to implement proper sterilization procedures or implement the necessary infection-control strategies are putting their patients at serious risk of catching the flu, norovirus and, even worse, so-called superbugs.

For those unfamiliar with superbugs — or hospital-acquired infections, as they are also known — statistics have shown that they are responsible for at least 100,000 patient deaths a year.

Some of the more common superbugs include:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): defined by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially deadly infection that is “caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections”
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections: defined by the Mayo Clinic as a “bacterium that can cause [serious] symptoms and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications”
  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections: defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to (carbapenem) antibiotics,” long considered the last line of defense by medical professionals

Interestingly, three hospitals here in the state of Pennsylvania are now using a very effective new tool to help fight the spread of the flu, norovirus and the aforementioned superbugs. In fact, this tool does not even require the use of expensive chemicals or disrupt hospital operations.

The tool in question is actually a portable room disinfection system that is designed to eliminate deadly microorganisms via pulses of ultraviolet light over 20,000 times more powerful than the sun.

Here, the robot — which resembles something out of a science fiction film — can be rolled into patient rooms, patient bathrooms, operation rooms, equipment rooms, emergency rooms, intensive care units and other sensitive areas to perform a disinfection sweep in a span of only five to 10 minutes.

While you would naturally wonder whether these robots would present any dangers to hospital staff, they are actually rather safe. Specifically, they are designed to self-activate after being placed into a room with a closed door, and are equipped with a motion sensor to automatically disable it in case someone bypasses a warning sign placed on the door.

It should be noted that hospitals are not using the robots as the sole method of disinfection. Rather, they are being used as a supplement to traditional chemical cleaning/wipe downs by hospital staff.

Please visit our website to learn more if you or a family member has been injured by a hospital-acquired infection.

Sources: Infection Control Today, “Xenex device halts spread of norovirus among staff and patients,” March 2013; The Rock Hill Herald, “Doylestown hospital unveils new tool to enhance patient safety,” March 20, 2013

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