Could a Disinfecting Robot Help Tackle HAIs?

Studies on the room disinfection technology using short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation demonstrate benefits and explore strategies for use.

Image courtesy of Tru-D SmartUVC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that “on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.” Given such risk to patients, let alone the cost of treatment, hospitals and healthcare systems are looking for ways to reduce these numbers. One potential solution, a disinfecting robot employing short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation (UVC), is designed to disinfect an entire room in one cycle. A recent study explored some of the challenges to implementation and strategies to overcome them.

“The CDC recently stated that C. diff rates are at an all-time high, and hospital-acquired infections continue to cost health care facilities precious lives and dollars,” explained Chuck Dunn, CEO and President of Tru-D SmartUVC. The company markets Tru-D SmartUVC, which operates at “a consistent 254 nanometers as this is the peak wavelength of the germicidal UVC spectrum,” reports Christin Yates, public relations officer for Tru-D SmartUVC. She points to this article on dose delivery that discusses 254 nanometers.

The technology is designed to be used after the room has been cleaned with traditional protocols.

The system is the “only UVC disinfection robot with patented Sensor360 technology, which compensates for room variables such as size, shape, and contents to deliver the precise, lethal dose of UVC needed,” explained Dunn. “Operating from one placement and administering one cycle of UVC energy, Tru-D eliminates the chance for human error and ensures thorough room disinfection.”

Dunn told MD+DI that the system is “backed by the only randomized clinical trial on UV disinfection.” That trial, the "Benefits of Enhanced Terminal Room-Disinfection" study (the BETR-D study), was detailed in a 2017 article published in The Lancet. A paper published this month in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Implementation Lessons Learned From the Benefits of Enhanced Terminal Room (BETR) Disinfection Study: Process and Perceptions of Enhanced Disinfection with Ultraviolet Disinfection Devices, shared lessons for employing UVC disinfection.

"The study implementation protocols mirror the messaging and program management process that Tru-D currently uses with our hospital partners," stated Alice Brewer, Clinical Affairs Director for Tru-D SmartUVC, in a statement on the implementation study. "In order for a hospital to implement a successful UVC disinfection program, there must be good communication, a focus on patient safety, compliance tracking, and appropriate resource allocation."

When MD+DI asked whether total room disinfection is needed for all rooms, Dunn said that “germs and pathogens can live anywhere—in shadowed areas, low-use spaces such as room corners, or around various surgical products tables—which is why every touchable surface should be a priority. Further, there is no evidence that any object in a room is more likely to cause an infection than another, and there is no correlation between touch frequency and microbial contamination load.”

The technology can be used to sterilize any durable medical devices stored in rooms, he explained. “Many hospitals will place extra wheelchairs or IV poles in a room before Tru-D is used to ensure they are clean,” he said.

Packaged products are not impacted, Dunn said. “UVC does not penetrate paper or plastic and therefore will not have any effect on sterile medical devices in such packaging,” he explained. “Hospitals should follow their own policies on storage of sterile materials in rooms between patients.”

In addition, “Tru-D will not penetrate the packaging of pharmaceuticals and should have no impact on the drugs themselves,” he said. “Hospitals should follow their own policies regarding keeping pharmaceuticals stored in rooms between patients.”

Wray Community Hospital and Clinic recently invested in Tru-D SmartUVC. The 15-bed critical access hospital provides a swing-bed program, 24-hour emergency care, 24-hour anesthesia services, a full-time board-certified surgeon, and various wellness programs.

"Having Tru-D in our facility helps ensure we are providing the safest environment possible for our patients and staff," stated Jennifer Kramer, Chief Clinical Officer of Wray Community Hospital, in a news release. "We are consistently looking for proactive measures that we can take to remain on the leading-edge of technology and patient safety. Our environmental staff does an excellent job with cleaning our facility, but Tru-D will ensure that no germs or pathogens are left behind."

Correction: The original article stated that “the company markets Tru-D SmartUVC, whose ‘UVC wavelengths are between 200 and 300 nanometers. . .' ” when in fact Tru-D SmartUVC operates at 254 nanometers. We apologize for this error.  We have also clarified in the intro that this is a potential solution.

Daphne Allen

Daphne Allen is editor-in-chief of MD+DI. She previously served as executive editor of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News, which serves as the pharmaceutical and medical device channel of Packaging Digest. Daphne has covered medical device packaging, labeling, manufacturing, and regulatory issues as well as pharmaceutical packaging for more than 20 years. She is also a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals's Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee. Follow her on Twitter at @daphneallen.

 

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