Operating rooms are supposed to be sterile environments, but studies have shown that they remain contaminated with microscopic pathogens even after they have been cleaned. The remaining germs and bacteria can pose a threat to the next patient in that room.
In a peer-reviewed clinical outcome study, surgical site infection rates decreased 46 percent at Lowell General Hospital in Lowell, MA after the facility began using robots for room disinfection. The study was published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
The hospital estimates that it avoided 23 infections and saved $478,055 as a result of fewer infections and credits its pulsed xenon ultraviolet disinfection technology for the dramatic reduction in its SSI rates.
“Even one infection is too many and our goal is zero,” said Angela Catalanotti, BSN, RN, and lead author of the study. “We invested in pulsed xenon UV disinfection technology to further bring down our infection rates by destroying the microscopic pathogens that traditional cleaning may have missed. The robots work quickly so we were able to easily incorporate them into our cleaning process.”
According to the study, during the intervention period (April 2013-December 2014), terminal disinfection of 13 operating rooms was performed nightly in addition to standard between-case cleaning. After the standard terminal cleaning (with chemicals) took place, two pulsed xenon UV disinfection devices were brought in and run simultaneously in the OR.
Lowell General used Germ-Zapping Robots from Xenex Disinfection Services to pulse intense UV light covering the entire UV spectrum to destroy viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores on surfaces. Its LightStrike disinfection system uses pulsed xenon to create UV light that covers the entire germicidal spectrum.
According to the company, its robots have been credited for helping healthcare facilities in the U.S. decrease their Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile (C.diff) and surgical site infection rates by more than 50, 70 and 100 percent, respectively.
The disinfecting robots can eliminate harmful microorganisms in 30-62 hospital rooms per day, including patient rooms, operating rooms, equipment rooms, emergency rooms, intensive care units and public areas.