Just this week, the American Journal of Infection Control published a study showing that ultraviolet cleaning reduces hospital superbugs by twenty percent. West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital in Sulphur is using this technology to disinfect on a whole new level.
Hospital rooms are breeding grounds for germs. That is why they are cleaned from top to bottom each day.
Amanda Bryant is the patient safety coordinator at WCCH. She makes sure that every step is being taken to keep germs and bacteria from spreading. "The housekeepers have a specific order of things that they do to clean the room to ensure that there's no cross-contamination or transmission of any bacteria or organisms," she said.
But even with every step taken by the human hand to kill germs, it is just not always enough.
Enter ultraviolet light technology, using light to kill microorganisms in the patients' environment. "We basically use a standard 15 minutes for all of our rooms based on their size," said Bryant.
A grid breaks down how many minutes of UV light would be needed to kill things like influenza A. "That would take approximately 1.6 minutes for a 12 foot room," said Bryant.
More importantly is the eradication of drug-resistant organisms like MRSA C. diff. "C. diff or Clostridium difficile, that takes 13.3 minutes," said Bryant.
The UV light disinfection system is used in the most high risk areas of the hospital right now. That includes the operating room, labor and delivery and the patient isolation areas where germs can most easily spread. "When you have patients that are being opened up for surgery or if there's invasive cases going on, you're more likely to introduce body fluids or biohazard fluids into the room," said Bryant.
UV light disinfection does not take the place of standard wipe downs. It is simply an added layer of protection.
Once the system is programmed "on," the operator walks out of the room, closes the door and sensors detect when it is safe to start cleaning.
UV cleaning sessions take a maximum of 15 minutes, killing more than 30 viruses, bacteria and fungus.
The UV light turns itself off automatically when it is done cleaning.
*WCCH has only had the technology since last fall, which has not provided a long enough window of time to track infection reduction rates compared to years before.