University Health System, a public hospital in San Antonio, Texas, has selected Xenex Healthcare Services’ xenon UV room disinfection system, a robot that is designed to eliminate bugs in hard-to-clean places, to enhance patient safety.
University Health System plans to install two of them in patient rooms, critical care areas and operating rooms throughout the University Hospital.
A third system obtained through a grant from the City of San Antonio to Xenex will be deployed in the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Robert B. Green Campus downtown, where patients are particularly vulnerable to infections.
A local government-owned hospital is reportedly the only other San Antonio health facility using the device.
Designed to disinfect a room in minutes, the device is portable and operates on its own once it is set up in a room.
One study showed that the treatment was 20 times more effective than traditional chemical cleaning practices.
Its ease of use, swiftness in cleaning and effectiveness against dangerous superbugs may help the hospital in overcoming the inadequacies posed by current chemical cleansers.
A number of hospitals that have previously purchased the Xenex system have published studies on its effectiveness.
One study of three hospitals in North Carolina found that use of the device reduced the rate of hospital-acquired MRSA infections by 56% over a six-month period, while a Massachusetts hospital achieved a 53% reduction in hospital-acquired C. difficile (C.diff) infections.
University Hospital began using the devices this week after training sessions wer conducted for its staff.
University Hospital staff epidemiologist and UT Medicine infection disease specialist Dr Jason Bowling said that, like all healthcare organisations, University Health System has had to redouble its efforts against any number of infectious disease threats in recent years.
"These threats include organisms which have become increasingly resistant to available antibiotics," Dr Bowling added.
"This new technology will be a welcome addition to our current, aggressive infection control efforts – all of them aimed at protecting our patients."
The Xenex robots use pulsed-xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than sunlight to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even bacterial spores.
The system is effective against dangerous pathogens including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), norovirus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.
University Health System is one of the largest employers in Bexar County with over 5,000 employees, nearly 700 resident physicians, and an operating budget of $947.6m for 2012.