UV Light Helps Duke Hospitals Fight Transmission of Super Bugs
A type of ultraviolet light called UVC is helping hospitals cut transmission of super bugs like MRSA that linger in patient rooms and cause new infections, according to a study by Duke Health researchers. As a result, several UVC machines are now in use at Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital and Duke Raleigh Hospital.
- The large study, published in The Lancet, finds machines that emit the UV light can cut transmission of four major super bugs by a cumulative 30 percent. The finding is specific to patients who stay overnight in a room where someone with a known positive culture or infection of a drug-resistant organism had previously been treated. “Some of these germs can live in 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,” said Deverick J. Anderson, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Duke and lead investigator of the study. “Infections from one of these bugs are tough to treat and can be truly debilitating for a patient.”
- During the study, a portable machine called the Tru-D SmartUVC was used to disinfect rooms where patients with the target bacteria had been staying. The machine emits UVC light into the empty room for about 30 minutes. The light bounces and reflects into hard-to-reach areas such as open drawers, and between cabinets and fixtures. The light waves kill bacteria by disrupting their DNA. “We can successfully reduce the risk of germs spreading through the environment through what we call, ‘enhanced disinfection’,” Anderson said. Hospitals have to be strategic to enable extra disinfection time while considering varied discharge times, the demand for patient rooms and availability of the machines.
- UVC light is just one of numerous methods hospitals can add to standard disinfection regimens to continue to cut infection rates for all pathogens. During the COVID-19 response, Duke continues to routinely use UVC light for all isolation discharge cleaning and as an supplementary measure to assist with “deep cleans” or workrooms, break rooms, and common spaces.