phonendoscope in doctor arm

Germ-Zapping Robots Kill Hospital-Acquired Infections In Cincinnati

On January 18, five germ-zapping robots were delivered to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The main function of these Xenex robots is to prevent HAIs, or Hospital-acquired infections. With mortality rates higher than breast cancer and colon cancer combined, HAIs are no laughing matter; few seem to understand their gravity.

Let’s say grandma goes to the hospital with a broken hip. While this is a serious surgery procedure, she is likely not to die from the surgery. Because of HAIs, however, her risk of death is actually greater than one might think. Hospital-acquired infections affect one in 25 patients annually in the United States. With the introduction of new high-tech methods, like these new germ-killing robots, there is hope that hospital-acquired infections will significantly drop within the next decade.

HAIs show up in patients after they are discharged from the hospital. Although they went in for a completely different matter, they leave unknowingly infected. These infections rear their ugly head in many forms. An HAI is defined as an infection a patient acquires either 48 hours after hospital admission, three days after they leave the hospital, or 30 days after a surgical procedure.

Anthrax bacteria can be killed by UC-V light, as used in Xenex germ-zapping robots. [Image by Getty Images]

Xenex robots kill germs and bacteria with a high-intensity ultraviolet light. This light, also known as UV-C light, works quickly. It is a highly regarded form of disinfectant, and it is possible to kill almost all germs within seconds. A positive side of this germicide is there are no harmful consequences to its use. UV-C light requires no harsh chemicals and its short wavelength makes it possible for the light to penetrate a cell wall and even its DNA. Once their DNA is destroyed, the cell cannot replicate its DNA. In other words, this means that the cell cannot reproduce. If a cell cannot reproduce, then it has no chance of survival.

A few hospitals have picked up these robots, Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital being the most recent. There have been extraordinary results. With the use of this technology, Trinity Medical Center saw a 100 percent elimination of surgical site infections.

These germicidal robots are not the only answer to HAI prevention. Additional safety measures ensure that patients go home without other, often more serious, complications. These precautions include but are not limited to prevention tool kits, a heightened awareness culture of HAI prevention methods at hospitals, and regular hand washing. The most common HAIs are treatable but often not caught until it is too late.

Hand washing is a preventative measure against hospital-acquired infections. [Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

Although the germicidal robots sell for $100,000 each, the hospitals that have invested in them are confident that they will more than make up for this initial cost. Hospital-acquired infections are not only deadly and rampant, but they are a multi-billion-dollar economic yearly cost as well.

Some of the most common HAIs are urinary tract infections (UTIs), meningitis, pneumonia, and MRSA. Although treatable, 100,000 people die from HAIs in the United States each year. Quite often, a doctor will be able to prescribe an antibiotic to kill the infection. They are also able to spot HAIs easily. They will take a surface form of rashes, redness, and inflammation.

Deborah Hayes, vice president and chief operating officer of The Christ Hospital, said “We want to do everything within our means to provide the safest and cleanest environment at all of our facilities. This is one more tool to help reduce the risk of hospital acquired infections,” according to Business Wire.

It’s estimated that the robots at Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital only take five minutes to disinfect a room and there are no warm-up or cool-down times. The Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots will help ensure that the hospital is able to provide a sanitary environment for all patients.

[Featured Image by Xenex/Facebook]

Comments