Mayo Clinic dispatches UV-emitting robots to fight drug-resistant bacteria

A Minnesota-based arm of the medical organization is training its employees to use the robots, which remain stationary and dole out pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light to zap C. diff spores on exposed surfaces in a patient’s room. The devices add to normal cleaning procedures by going through three cycles in different parts of the room, a process that usually takes about 25 minutes.  However, that extra time is “worth it, because the average increased length of stays for a person with C. diff is three days,” Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, chair of Mayo Clinic’s infection control committee at its Rochester, MN, campus said in a statement. “If we prevent C. diff infections, we gain that time back,” Sampathkumar pointed out.

Mayo has already charted some promising results for the robots.  In October 2014, the organization kicked off a pilot run of the devices as part of a project with The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 5 healthcare systems across the U.S. Mayo during the 6-month pilot found a 30% decrease in C-diff infections in units that were cleaned with the robot compared with those that were not. Buoyed by the results, Mayo bought 10 more robots last fall.

Mayo is not the only one getting involved in UV robots for hospital infections. Last year, startup Xenex raked in $25 million to boost development for its Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot, which uses UV light to fight C. diff and other drug-resistant bacteria.  The robot is already used in more than 250 hospitals, Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense (DOD) facilities in the U.S.; however, the company is aiming for a broader market for its devices.

Germ-fighting heavyweight Clorox Healthcare ($CLX) is also hard at work on a UV cleaning device for drug-resistant infections.  The Grapevine, TX-based company’s Optimum-UV Enlight system can kill 31 pathogens including C. difficile, MRSA and CRE in 5 minutes from 8 feet away, and monitors infection rates and outbreaks in real-time.

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 22 JAN 2016; Emily Wasserman

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