Challenged by the continuing evolution of nasty pathogens, hospitals are starting to turn to
non-traditional methods of infection control.
Surgical Products recently spoke with Chuck Dunn, president of
Lumalier, about some non-traditional methods of infection control
being practiced in hospitals today. Lumalier makes Tru-D SmartUVC, a
portable UV disinfection system.
SP: What’s driving the increased prevalence of
some non-traditional methods of infection control and
sterilization in hospitals and medical facilities today?
Dunn: Hospitals and medical facilities are challenged by the continuing
evolution of the nasty pathogens – “superbugs”– that lurk in hospital environments and can contribute to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), making patients sicker
than they were when they checked in. It is absolutely the worst-case scenario for any hospital to
have a patient develop an infection after being
admitted. Traditional chemical cleaning methods
have been linked to the emergence of chemi-cal-resistant pathogen mutations that are highly
resistant to common cleaning chemicals, requir-ing facilities to transition to stronger and stronger
chemical cleaners. Traditional methods have also
been shown to lack in complete disinfection of
hospital environments, proving to be only about 50 percent effective in ridding
surfaces of pathogens such as influenza, norovirus, Clostridium difficile (C.
diff.), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) that can compromise patient outcomes.
SP: Why are some facilities looking to invest in
new technology/products or adopt different strategies to limit the spread of infection? What has
changed or what knowledge have they gained that
has led them to move away from some of the traditional or tried-and-true methods?
Dunn: Healthcare providers have traditionally relied on manual cleaning
to disinfect patient rooms and surgical suites after use. However, studies have
shown this type of cleaning is usually ineffective due to human error, leaving
dangerous pathogens behind to lurk and allowing for the possible transmission of the pathogens from one room to another by hospital staff. Innovative
technology reduces the possibility of human error and takes the guesswork
out of determining whether a patient room or surgery suite is completely disinfected and ready for the next patient. This technology eliminates the risk of
increased pathogen mutation and chemical resistance and allows for higher
efficiency in disinfection and quicker turnaround of patient areas, allowing the
hospitals to be more productive and successfully treat more people.
SP: For those hospitals and medical facilities
looking into nontraditional products and methods,
what options are out there for them?
Dunn: There are a couple of nontraditional products in the market now
that utilize different methods for disinfection. One such method is automated
dosing of UV light irradiation, which when measured at certain wavelengths
will modify the DNA structure of an infectious cell so that it cannot reproduce,
and a cell that cannot reproduce cannot colonize and is thus destroyed. The
ability to measure reflected UVC dose additionally ensures disinfection in
shadowed and hard-to-reach high-touch surfaces from a single placement in
the room. Another method utilizes hydrogen peroxide vapors, which can be
highly effective. However, it may be caustic to delicate instruments and take
more than four times longer to complete a disinfection cycle, prolonging room
turnover and potentially reducing hospital productivity. There are several
third-party studies directly related to TRU-D that offer in-depth research on
its effectiveness and consistent disinfection outcomes regardless of room variables, including room size, shape, wall coloring, and the amount of equipment
in the room. These evidence-based studies are an excellent source of information for hospitals and medical facilities researching nontraditional disinfection
SP: What can be gained from purchasing these
products and adopting these methods?
Dunn: These products are designed to complement a hospital’s existing comprehensive cleaning and disinfection program while reducing the
possibility of human error. The technology allows for higher efficiency in
disinfecting hospital environments and quicker turnaround of patient areas,
allowing the hospitals to be more productive and successfully treat more
people. Additionally, an automated disinfection robot allows fast room set-up for a reduction in man hours spent while still maintaining an increase in
efficiency, which is always valuable to a hospital’s operating budget.
SP: How do you see the market demand for non-
traditional products and methods changing over the
long and short term? What determining factors will
affect how the market develops?
Dunn: We believe that the technology is really only beginning to be fully
understood and appreciated by the healthcare industry. We had a few early
adopters of our technology when we first introduced TRU-D in 2007 – and
those clients have since added additional units to their hospital systems.
We believe that in the very near future, this system will be a standard part of
infection control programs at hospitals across the country, as leaders realize
the return on investment – that being higher-quality patient care.