Less Germs, More Smiles – Using UVC Disinfection in Children’s Hospitals
Given young patients’ higher risk of infection, among other factors, children’s hospitals in particular need higher levels of protection and cleaning. One promising approach is the use of UVC disinfection—exposing patient rooms or other spaces to ultraviolet-C light that kills or inactivates multidrug-resistant organisms.
Children tend to be at greater than average risk for HAIs for multiple reasons. Very young patients, such as those in neonatal intensive care units, have yet to develop immunity. Others are in a hospital setting for treatment of a disease or condition placing them in immunocompromised states.
Alice Brewer, Director of Clinical Affairs for Tru-D SmartUVC, says children’s hospitals “end up with a densely populated area of individuals who have little defense against infections and are being subjected to procedures, tests and medications that can further reduce their immunity. So it’s almost a domino effect.”
Brewer says an infection prevention program in a children’s hospital should place additional emphasis on several factors speciﬁc to the setting. “Hand hygiene tends not to be great among kids,” she says, so children’s hospitals may need to increase focus on surface cleaning.
Meeting the Challenge with UVC Disinfection
According to the results of a randomized clinical trial published in The Lancet, Tru-D’s patented Sensor360® technology, which measures the reflected UVC dose, has been shown to reduce the relative risk of colonization and infection caused by epidemiologically-important pathogens among patients admitted to the same room by a cumulative 30% in hospital settings with 93% compliance of standard disinfection protocols. Individual hospital results may vary.
An additional study published this summer in The Lancet Infectious Diseases pointed to hospital-wide reductions in Clostridioides difficile and vancomycin-resistant enterococci infections following the addition of UVC to patient room disinfection procedures. Both studies used Tru-D devices but were funded and designed with no input from the company.
Children’s hospitals around the U.S. have experienced similar outcomes. At Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the overall incidence of HAIs decreased by just more than 50% following the implementation of UVC disinfection with Tru-D devices.
With similar results, Children’s of Alabama has added Tru-D UVC disinfection to its overall disinfection efforts, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, has made UVC a part of the disinfection protocol in areas with patients highly susceptible to infection, including those undergoing organ transplants or intensive cancer treatments.
Brewer points to ease of use as one of the reasons hospitals have successfully added Tru-D devices to their infection prevention plans. Since the Tru-D robot is a single placement device and tracks the amount of UVC light emitted into a room, shutting off when it has delivered the appropriate amount, a staff member can start the procedure and move on to other tasks without needing to reposition the equipment or make other adjustments.
“Unless you measure how much UVC you’re putting into a room, you’re just guessing,” says Brewer. “Just like we don’t want to guess the dosage of a medication, we don’t want to guess at the amount of UVC we’re putting into a room. We want to ensure the dosage is enough to kill whatever germs may be lingering behind in the room.”
Part of a Bigger Picture
UVC disinfection is “absolutely an adjunct to manual cleaning processes,” says Brewer. “UVC is not a silver bullet.” Existing cleaning procedures, using the appropriate chemicals, remain just as critical to the overall process. Brewer says UVC works best in conjunction with a layered approach to disinfection including hand hygiene, antimicrobial stewardship, diagnostic stewardship and other environmental disinfection procedures.
“The environment contributes somewhere to the transmission of germs, with the rest of that burden coming from things that might happen during the care of the patient,” she says. “UVC disinfection is taking the environment out of that equation.”