Healthcare-associated infections continue to plague
hospitals across the country, despite advancements in prevention strategies. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports
that about one in 25 hospitals has at least one healthcare-associated infection, “on any given day.” Prevention
is becoming increasingly difficult since many of these harmful organisms are developing resistance to currently available antibiotics. However, things may be looking up.
Duke Health researchers have found
that a tool may help hospitals make a some headway in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The tool in question? A UVC machine, which uses a kind of ultraviolet light to kill harmful bacteria that may remain in patient rooms even after they have been chemically disinfected. The researchers report that these machines can reduce “transmission of four major superbugs by a cumulative 30%.”
Even though some hospitals have already started using UVC
machines in combination with “standard chemical disinfection
,” there is not much research available on how effective these machines are in eliminating dangerous bacteria.
Therefore, Duke Health researchers decided to conduct a large randomized trial—consisting of over 21,000 patients—comparing the effectiveness of several different cleaning methods on eliminating different pathogens from the environment. The researchers compared quaternary ammonium followed by UV light, subbing chlorine bleach instead of quaternary ammonium without any UV light, and using chlorine bleach followed by UV light.
The study focused on the effectiveness of removing four drug-resistant organisms that are known to plague hospitals the most: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Clostridium difficile
, and Acinetobacter
“These are the top four bad bugs that we’ll see in hospitals. When patients get infections from these organisms they have long hospital stays, often require intensive care, and have basically a major interruption in their lives because of the ill effects of these types of infections,”said lead investigator Deverick J. Anderson, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Duke Health explained in an educational video
The trial was conducted at nine hospitals over the course of two years, from 2012 to 2014. According to Dr. Anderson, “We had two tertiary care centers, Duke and UNC, a [Veterans Affairs] VA, and six different community hospitals, so it was a good representation of all of the different areas where care is provided.”