Germ-zapping robots can improve hygiene in hospitals, studies show

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Each year, a typical hospital with 100 beds will generate 10 to 20 hospital-acquired infections. Most hospitals rely heavily on housekeeping staffs, which often suffer from a high turnover rate. Could hospitals improve hygiene with a team of germ-zapping robots?

Yes, says Chetan Jinadatha, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s College of Medicine as well as the chief of infectious diseases at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple.

Jinadatha’s research looks at the effectiveness of using robots to prevent the spread of infections from patient and patient, and to save both lives and dollars. Specifically, he is studying the effectiveness of a pulsed xenon ultraviolet light system developed in Texas and introduced in 2011, which releases a spectrum of ultraviolet light kills microorganisms.

In two published studies, Jinadatha has found:

* Manual disinfection plus ultraviolet light kills more than 90 percent of bacteria, compared to 70 percent with manual cleaning alone.

* In addition, manual disinfection plus ultraviolet light killed 99 percent of bacteria that produce infections that resist antibiotics.

* In just 12 minutes, the xenon ultraviolet light system cuts the amount bacteria in a hospital room by about 70 percent – roughly the same level of effectiveness as manual disinfection.

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