Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UV light robot to clean hospital rooms could help stop spread of 'superbugs'


Can a robot clean a hospital room just as well as a person?

According to new research out of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, that is indeed the case. Chetan Jinadatha, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and chief of infectious diseases at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple, is studying the effectiveness of a germ-zapping robot to clean hospital rooms, which could hold the key to preventing the spread of "superbugs" - in turn, saving countless dollars and, most importantly, lives.

Surfaces in hospital rooms such as tray tables, bedrails, call buttons and grab bars can be reservoirs for bacteria. A new UV light method for cleaning hospital rooms could help stop the spread of dangerous bacteria, and in turn, save lives.

Credit: Texas A&M Health Science Center

Keeping hospital rooms clean is important to prevent the spread of infections from one patient to another. Surfaces in hospital rooms such as tray tables, bedrails, call buttons and grab bars can be reservoirs for bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be difficult to treat, and in some cases, fatal.

"A typical 100-bed hospital sees about 10-20 hospital-acquired infections a year," Jinadatha says. "Our goal is to get to zero infections."

In addition to the human toll, hospitals now have a financial reason to reduce hospital-acquired infections: beginning in 2017, the federal government will dramatically reduce Medicare payments to hospitals that exceed incidences of certain conditions, such as hospital-acquired infections.

Since the current method of cleaning hospital rooms relies heavily on housekeeping staff, who often have a high turnover rate, Jinadatha has focused his research on using technology to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

In particular, he is studying the effectiveness of a pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light system that was developed in Texas. Jinadatha has been among the first to study the system since it was introduced in 2011.

The device - which Jinadatha admits bears a striking resemblance to the fictional robot in Star Wars known as R2-D2 - has a large saucer-shaped head on top of a column that rises up to reveal a bulb filled with xenon gas.

When the system is switched on, high-voltage electricity passes through the bulb and releases a spectrum of UV light that binds to the DNA of organisms and kills them.

Last year, Jinadatha published a study that compared the effectiveness of manual disinfection alone to manual disinfection plus the use of UV light.

This study found that manual cleaning plus UV light killed more than 90 percent of the bacteria, compared to 70 percent with manual cleaning alone. Of particular note was the fact that manual disinfection plus UV light killed 99 percent of the bacteria that cause MRSA.

Jinadatha's latest study, which was published earlier this year in the American Journal of Infection Control, looked at the effectiveness of UV light disinfection by itself. This study found that in just 12 minutes, the UV light system cut the amount bacteria in the room by about 70 percent - roughly the same level of effectiveness as manual disinfection.

Jinadatha stresses that he would never recommend that a hospital use the UV light system by itself, but he believes it does have value as a "safety net" to kill bacteria that traditional cleaning may miss. Currently the system is being used in 40 VA hospitals across the country and about 200 private hospitals. He predicts it will eventually become standard equipment at all hospitals.

"There is no one thing that will take away the problem of hospital-acquired infections, but we are slowly chipping away at it," he says.

Media Contact

Holly Shive


Holly Shive | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>