A Big K.O. to Germs: Robot Enhances Hospital Safety by Killing Infection-Causing Microbes

August 8, 2017

Hospitals around the world are looking for new and innovative ways to battle deadly pathogens and kill multidrug resistant organisms that can cause hospital-acquired infections, or HAI. Saint Peter’s University Hospital has taken a leap into the future with the implementation of a LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robot™ that emits waves of ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy hard-to-kill bugs in hard-to-clean places.

“In infection prevention, our goal is to provide a clean, safe environment for our patients, their families and our employees. This latest technology provides an added level of protection in combating HAIs caused by pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus,” said Amy R. Gram, director of Infection Prevention at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. “By improving our disinfection practices with the implementation of the Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot, we have added another strategy to further reduce our infection rates.”

UV has been used for disinfection for decades. The Xenex robot is a new technology that uses pulsed xenon, a high-intensity UV light that penetrates the cell walls of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus and spores. Their DNA is fused, rendering them unable to reproduce or mutate, effectively killing them on surfaces without contact.

“This is a revolutionary system that provides a second layer of protection after a room is cleaned and sanitized,” said Perry Zycband, manager of environmental services for Saint Peter’s University Hospital. After the environmental services staff cleans a room, a portable robot is wheeled in. “It’s a cool device—it looks like R2-D2 from Star Wars or the robot from Lost in Space,” Zycband said. The staff must leave the space and let the machine run for 10 minutes in the room and 5 minutes in the bathroom.

The system is effective against even the most dangerous pathogens, including Clostridium difficile (C.diff), norovirus, influenza, Ebola and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. “Studies have proved it is very effective,” Zycband says. Indeed, other hospitals have published their C.diff, MRSA and surgical site infection rate reduction studies in peer-reviewed journals, showing infection rate reductions in excess of 70 percent. More than 400 hospitals, Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense facilities in the United States, Canada, Africa, Japan and Europe are using Xenex robots, which are also in use in skilled nursing facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, and long-term acute-care facilities. “Anything that helps clean the room benefits patients,” Zycband says. “They can know the room has this second layer of protection to destroy germs.”

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