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UV Technology Not as Effective as EVS Workers in Disinfecting Hospitals

Study finds UV can make up for cleaning shortfalls, but not replace an efficient team

February 13, 2020

Although ultraviolet (UV) technology disinfection can improve the cleanliness of hospital patient rooms, a recent study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases found it made the biggest difference in rooms that had not been cleaned thoroughly by the hospital Environmental Services (EVS) staff, Infection Control Today reports.

Researchers took samples of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and aerobic bacterial colonies (ABC) from five high-touch surfaces in patients’ rooms at a Veterans Health Administration (VA) hospital in Temple, Texas. The surfaces included bedrails, nurse call buttons, toilet seats, restroom handrails, and tray tables. The samples were taken before EVS staff manually cleaned the rooms, after they cleaned the rooms using one of three disinfectants or one cleaner, and after UV disinfection. EVS staff used sodium hypochlorite 10% solution, hydrogen peroxide with peracetic acid, or detergent to clean and disinfect the rooms.

The scientists found that ABC bacterial counts were 56% lower for post-manual cleaning plus UV, compared with manual cleaning alone. For MRSA, the bacterial counts were 93% lower for post-manual cleaning plus UV versus manual cleaning alone.

However, investigators measured the effectiveness of the EVS cleaning crews and found the bacterial counts varied significantly after manual cleanings, proving some individuals cleaned better than others. Bacteria counts also varied according to how long the cleaner was allowed to dwell on a surface, the potency of its dilution, and how much ABC or MRSA was on the surface in the first place.

Researchers concluded that although UV disinfection was found to significantly lower bacteria counts, it provided the greatest benefit by supplementing the least efficient cleaning solutions, disinfectants, and cleaning professionals. They believe an efficient EVS staff properly trained in proper cleaning protocols is the best defense against hospital pathogens.  

Learn how to measure the performance of your EVS team, as well as the benefits of UV disinfection technology.

 

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