Robot cleaner a 'game changer' for hospital infection epidemic

7th of February 2012
Robot cleaner a 'game changer' for hospital infection epidemic

A mobile robotic device said to combat germs with blasts of UV light has been developed for use in hospitals.

The Xenex, devised by US epidemiologists, is claimed to disinfect a hospital room in five to 10 minutes. It is used as a follow-up to cleaning teams and focuses on high-touch surfaces such as tray tables, telephones and bedrails.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass, has reported a 67 per cent drop in infections from C.difficile after using the device. "We think we might have saved five lives and prevented two colostomies," says Dr Joanne Levin, medical director of Cooley's infection prevention programme. The hospital plans to purchase a third Xenex machine later this year.

Also using the device is Cone Health, which has been using the Xenex in four of its hospitals since January 2011. Since then the chain has reduced MRSA infections by 35 per cent in hospital wards and lowered it to zero in intensive care units.

According to Dr Mary Jo Cagle, chief quality officer of Cone Health: "This has been a game-changer for us. Rooms are cleaned faster and are safer now. When you're talking about critically-ill patients, just getting them into a room 15 minutes faster can mean the difference between life and death."

Xenex uses xenon lamps to sterilise hospital surfaces with ultra-violet light. The technology is said to have a higher microbicidal effect than mercury lamps and is claimed to be safer, since xenon gas is inert and harmless whereas mercury gas is highly toxic.

Xenex's technology is currently being used in more than 20 hospitals in the US, and the company hopes to have it in 240 by the end of this year. Hospitals in Europe and Asia have also expressed an interest.



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