Issue: November 2012
October 18, 2012
1 min read

UV light killed drug-resistant bacteria in hospital rooms

Issue: November 2012
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SAN DIEGO — Short-wave ultraviolet radiation killed many bacteria present in hospital rooms, according to data presented at ID Week 2012.

“We know that bacteria can spread to patients via dirty hands, but there is also evidence that bugs can be transmitted from within the environment,” Deverick J. Anderson, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University and co-director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, said during a media briefing. “One possible reason for this is that many of the surfaces in hospital rooms are not cleaned very well.”

Deverick Anderson, MD 

Deverick J. Anderson

Anderson and colleagues tested a new automated device that emits short-wave ultraviolet radiation. They performed an interventional study on a convenience sample of 39 rooms within two tertiary care hospitals. The rooms were selected because they had just had a patient with one of three bacteria: vancomycin-resistant enterococci, Acinetobacter or Clostridium difficile.

When the patient was discharged, and prior to room cleaning, the researchers obtained 15 cultures from several locations in the room, including the bathroom, bedrail, remote control and toilet. They used a machine with eight UV bulbs to irradiate the room for 25 to 40 minutes. Then they cultured the same locations.

They found that there was more than a 90% reduction in all three pathogens after using the UV light. This occurred in all locations sampled, both in direct light and indirect light. For Acinetobacter, there was a 98.1% decrease in colony-forming units; for vancomycin-resistant enterococci, there was a 97.9% decrease; for C. difficile, there was a 92.9% decrease.

“We have a solid foundation to show that this approach succeeds in both experimental and real world conditions,” Anderson said. “Now it’s time to see if we can demonstrate that it indeed decreases the rate of infections among patients.”

For more information:

Anderson D. #36438. Presented at: ID Week 2012; Oct. 16-19, 2012; San Diego.

Disclosure: Anderson reports financial relationships with Merck, Pfizer and UpToDate.