Ultraviolet cleaning reduces hospital superbugs by 20 percent

Healthcare-associated vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (CD), and other multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) were decreased among patients after adding ultraviolet environmental disinfection (UVD) to the cleaning regimen, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

In this retrospective study led by the Department of Infection Prevention and Control at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY, researchers discovered that the rate of healthcare-associated infections caused by MDRO and C. difficile was significantly lower during the 22 months of UVD use compared with the 30-month period before UVD (2.14 cases per 1,000 patient-days vs 2.67 cases, respectively). This dramatic decline in incidence occurred despite missing 24 percent of UVD opportunities.

UVD is a disinfection method that uses ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms in the patients' environment.

"In our study, overall decreases in MDRO plus C. difficile were led by a decrease in VRE, which is our most common hospital-acquired MDRO," the authors state. "Although there were many other simultaneous interventions occurring at our hospital that could have contributed to the reduction in VRE acquisition, the rates experienced during UVD are the lowest incidence rates of VRE at our institution for the past 10 years and were sustained for 22 months."

The study analyzed 52 months of hospital-acquired MDROs plus C. difficile before and during UVD use. During the pre-UVD period (January 2009-June 2011), the hospital used standard cleaning protocols [sodium hypochlorite (bleach)] to disinfect MDRO patient rooms upon discharge. Once the hospital leased two UVD machines and trained the staff to use them, the second phase began (July 2011-April 2013), during which UVD was added to the cleaning regimen.

In addition to use for contact precaution discharges, UVD was used weekly in the dialysis unit and for all burn unit discharges. UVD could be requested for rooms of long-stay patients or for discharges in units with high prevalence of MDRO or CD.

Under contact precautions, everyone coming into a patient's room is asked to wear a gown and gloves because the patient has a type of infection that can be spread by touching the patient or their environment.

The system was used for 6 minutes in the bathroom and 6 minutes each at two positions in the patient room. On average, UVD added 51 minutes per discharge.

"Use of UVD as an adjunct to routine discharge cleaning of contact precautions rooms was feasible and temporally associated with a significant decrease in hospital-acquired MDRO plus CD in our institution," conclude the authors.

More information: "Implementation and impact of ultraviolet environmental disinfection in an acute care setting," by Janet P. Haas, Jonathan Menz, Stephen Dusza, and Marisa A. Montecalvo, appears in the American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 42, Issue 6 (June 2014)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Most California hospitals implementing infection control

Mar 17, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Most California hospitals implement some policies to improve infection control for multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO), primarily methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but fe ...

Recommended for you

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

19 hours ago

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet May 28, 2014
Uh, that stuff used to be known as 'natural light', hence the high ceilings and huge, sunny-side glazing of the classic 'Nightingale Wards'...

Given that laundry detergent makers are now concerned that LED room-lights lack the UV to make washing 'whiter than white', perhaps there's a case for tweaking the LED mix to include 'UV Torch' components ?? And nationally setting an output nm range / strength that can be advertised as 'new improved original daylight' ??