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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Robot helps stomp hospital acquired infections

Hospital executives are looking for more state-of-the-art ways to ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness in their facilities, especially with hospital acquired infections (HAI) being enormously underreported, according to statistics.

For a successful solution that is as state-of-the-art as they come, facilities can consider using a robot that is equipped with flashes of ultraviolet light to sterilize and kill germs.

The robot, called Xenex, was developed by researchers at the Houston Technology Center, and is a mobile, robotic device that combats germs with blasts of light. The light flashes are "pulsed xenon UV," a type of ultraviolet light that sterilizes and kills microbiological contaminants. Xenex was used at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA, and soon after, the hospital saw almost a 70% drop in infections from C. diff, a toxic superbug that can cause diarrhea, sepsis and death.

According to reports, HAIs cost the U.S. healthcare system as much as $88 billion annually. With HAIs so high in not only the United States, but the world – using technology to combat the problem, and keep hospitals and patients safer is a win-win.

Infection reduction has become especially critical for hospitals as the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) said it will not pay for illnesses, injuries or readmissions that were "reasonably preventable." Hospital-acquired infections fall into that category.

The market for this robot is very large. In the U.S. alone there are about 5,800 hospitals, and Xenex's technology is currently only in a little over twenty hospitals. The company says it hopes to have it in 240 hospitals by the end of this year, moving also into Europe and Asia.