Carol Calabrese, a board-certified infection preventionist, gives us her expert opinion on using UVC disinfection to augment healthcare cleaning protocols.
As infection preventionists, it’s not uncommon to implement the use of different technologies to complement aseptic and sterile techniques. This includes such measures as placing CHG-impregnated patches over the insertion site of a central line, securement devices for central lines and foleys, silver-coated foley catheters, or CHG-impregnated dressings on surgical incisions — all done in an effort to aid in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
And by using adjunct technologies — such as UVC disinfection — we can improve our infection prevention by helping offset any human error. In fact, two doctors — Dennis Maki and Richard Wenzel — have both said that if given a choice between relying on humans or technology, it’s always best to go with technology.
Of course, with the introduction of any new technology, it’s natural for some skepticism to be present until research can demonstrate its clinical effectiveness. But as you’ll see, UVC disinfection has been proven effective several times over.
The Foundation for Keeping Patients Safe
Maintaining good environmental hygiene is important to the prevention of HAIs. The 2003 CDC Environmental Infection Control Guidelines provide guidance for cleaning and disinfecting the healthcare environment, and in a 2010 supplement to those guidelines, Alice Guh and Philip Carling discussed the process of validation of cleaning effectiveness, placing special emphasis on the cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces with roles and responsibilities of whom is to clean medical equipment.
In more than eight studies, the results confirmed that patients who occupy a room that previously housed another patient with either VRE, MRSA, C. difficile, or A. baumannii infection or colonization have a 73% greater risk of acquiring that same pathogen. However, another five studies have demonstrated that with improved cleaning, you can see an average reduction of 40% in the transmission of MRSA, VRE, and A. Baumannii.
Dr. Alfa’s 2015 article in AJIC found that daily use of an environmental disinfectant cleaner (with >80% compliance) was superior to a cleaner alone at reducing the rates of MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile.
A study by Dr. Rupak Datta demonstrated a reduction of MRSA and VRE among 10 ICUs using enhanced cleaning and disinfecting with the use of fluorescent marker validation.
The Need for UVC Disinfection
Yet even with the progress made in environmental cleaning, hand-to-surface and surface-to-hand transmission is still occurring and resulting in the potential risk of HAIs.
This is where the use of UVC disinfection technology is beneficial, as it complements the physical cleaning and disinfecting process already in place for high-touch surfaces.
Having been used in other settings for years, UVC disinfection units first surfaced in healthcare around 2010. And this 2017 study demonstrated a significant reduction of 94% in colonization & infection with the use of adjunct UVC disinfection technology.
Other studies continue to support the use of UVC disinfection adjunct technology as a method to reduce the risk of health-care associated infections and continue the battle against emerging pathogens.
Due to its demonstrated effective use in healthcare for over 12 years, my recommendation, as a board-certified infection preventionist, would be to incorporate the use of UVC disinfection technology as an essential component of any environmental hygiene program.