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Ultraviolet Cleaning Lowers the Amount of Superbugs in Hospitals

Update Date: May 28, 2014 02:26 PM EDT

Over the past years, the rise of superbugs, which are bacteria strains that have grown resistant to antibiotics, has made certain infections very difficult to treat. Some of these strains, such as ancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (CD), and other multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) get transmitted within the hospital setting. In a new study, researchers found that ultraviolet cleaning can reduce superbugs by 20 percent.

"In our study, overall decreases in MDRO plus C. difficile were led by a decrease in VRE, which is our most common hospital-acquired MDRO," the authors stated according to Medical Xpress. "Although there were many other simultaneous infection control interventions occurring at our hospital that could have contributed to the reduction in VRE acquisition, the rates experienced during UVD are the lowest incidence rates of VRE at our institution for the past 10 years and were sustained for 22 months."

In this study, the research team headed by the Department of Infection Prevention and Control at Westchester Medical Center located in Valhalla, NY examined the rates of health-care related infections that were caused by two of the superbugs, MDRO and CD. The team discovered that during the 22 months when hospitals used ultraviolet environmental disinfection (UVD), the rate of infection was 2.14 cases per every 1,000 patients. In the 30-month period prior to using UVD, the incidence rate was 2.67 per 1,000 patients.

The data on hospital cases before UVD were recorded between January 2009 and June 2011 when the hospitals used standard cleaning protocols, such as bleach to disinfect rooms. The team also looked at when hospitals used UVD from July 2011 to April 2013.

"Use of UVD as an adjunct to routine discharge cleaning of contact precautions rooms was feasible and temporally associated with a significant decrease in hospital-acquired MDRO plus CD in our institution," concluded the authors.

The study, "Implementation and impact of ultraviolet environmental disinfection in an acute care setting," was published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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