Using UV Light to Eliminate Disease in Healthcare Facilities

May 30, 2017

Duke Health has determined that ultraviolet light called UVC could help hospitals keep drug-resistant bacteria from patient rooms, preventing the further spread of disease. 

A study from Duke Health shows that Ultraviolet (UV) light can lead the way for healthcare facilities to disinfect patient rooms from drug-resistant bacteria.

The study, recently published in The Lancet, tested the use of ultraviolet C (UVC) against four superbugs: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE); Acinetobacter; and Clostridium difficile.

The team tested standard disinfection using quaternary ammonium with three other cleaning methods: quaternary ammonium followed by UV light; chlorine bleach without UV light; and bleach with UV light.

The researchers found that the additional cleaning provided by the UV light cumulatively decreased infection by 30% in the patient who occupied the room next. 

"Some of these germs can live on the environment so long that even after a patient with the organism has left the room and it has been cleaned, the next patient in the room could potentially be exposed," says Deverick J. Anderson, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Duke Health and lead investigator of the trial. "Infections from one of these bugs are tough and expensive to treat and can be truly debilitating for a patient. For hospitals, these infections also cause a burden of costs that often aren't reimbursable."

Parts of the study that deemed UV light not as succssful were after it didn't work as well on C. difficile, which is where the researchers thought they’d see the biggest impact.

The study was conducted in nine Southeast hospitals and included more than 21,000 patients, each of whom stayed overnight in a room where someone with a known positive culture or infection of a superbug had been treated.

To read more in-depth on the Duke Health study, visit the Duke website here

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