One area of focus to lower healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and enhance patient care is the cleaning and disinfecting of patient rooms after patient discharge or transfer.
To supplement existing infection control procedures and fight hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and other multi-drug resistant organisms, some hospitals have recently adopted portable enhanced environmental disinfection systems (robots) that use ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light or hydrogen peroxide vapor (HPV).
Notably, these disinfection robotics evolved out of the need to ensure “no-touch” during COVID-19 and reduce HAIs without incurring additional labor costs. Additionally, disinfecting robot technology could see a return on investment due to fewer staff-contracted infections and loss of work time. Implementing disinfection robotics might improve patient health outcomes and bring about significant savings and cost avoidance for healthcare systems.
Advantages of UV-C robots
- Robotic sanitation will function standardized, unmanned manner without requiring constant human presence at the sanitation site. Consequently, it is possible to prevent exposing medical personnel to dangerous UV radiation during the procedure.
- Applying UV-C as a ﬁnal disinfection step after manual cleaning and disinfection provides an additional hygiene beneﬁt to reducing cross-transmission and healthcare-associated infections.
- UV light does not leave any residues, making this an environmentally friendly disinfection method.
This post will explore some key factors while introducing disinfection robots into intensive care units and other high-infection-risk patient care areas.
- When deciding whether to implement disinfection robots, hospital value analysis and technology assessment departments must collaborate with infection control/prevention departments to ensure a smooth introduction.
- These innovations are pricey. Consider testing the robots to determine their best use in terms of the technologies and places to put them to use.
- Gather information for the trial on readmission rates, disinfection time, room downtime, and hospital infection rates before and after implementation (including the number and types of pathogens).
- If you buy the technology, choose how many to buy, where to put them, and whether to buy them outright or lease them.
- To ensure uniform infection prevention procedures, develop a phased implementation strategy that includes staff training to ensure the understanding of the technology and its implications for other aspects of infection control.
- A successful infection prevention program depends on training staff in proper terminal cleaning, robotic cleaning, and infection prevention techniques. Even if a patient area has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, if a staff member does not follow the correct infection prevention protocol, any patient area they touch could become recontaminated.
- Keep an eye out for evidence of effectiveness in the clinical literature. In clinical settings, most cleaning and monitoring modalities are not well studied. Weak study designs, a lack of agreement on crucial ideas (like the definition of high-touch surfaces and cleanliness thresholds), and reliance on nonclinical results all contribute to the evidence base’s limitations.
- Watch for technology enhancements for newly constructed hospital and high-ion areas, including built-in UV-C and/or HPC disinfection systems.
- Finally, understand that technologies do not prevent the need for other infection control practices.