NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – As Cooley Dickinson Hospital reports nine months of data, the trend is clear: The implementation of portable ultraviolet light technology to disinfect patient rooms dramatically reduces the risk of acquiring Clostridium difficile (C.diff) during a hospital stay.
At Cooley Dickinson Hospital (CDH), the chances of acquiring any infection during or after a hospital stay are significantly less than 1 percent compared to a 5+percent risk in general in the nation.
In May, CDH announced an 82 percent drop in C. diff, a virulent germ that can cause diarrhea, sepsis and even death. The decrease occurred following adoption in January of room cleaning with the Xenex Px-UV Disinfection System, an added step among many CDH already takes to eliminate infections.
At that time, the CDH infection prevention team noted that the UV light appeared to prevent transmission of germs within the hospital. Other customers reporting positive results from their use of Xenex's room disinfection system include Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center and Cone Health System in North Carolina.
Three months later, CDH continues to hold its gains.
"Not only did our rates go down per our initial hypothesis, but since we started using the UV light technology, no one has needed surgery or died from a hospital-acquired case of C dif," said Joanne Levin, MD, Medical Director of the CDH Infection Prevention Program.
Infection and complications from infection are a risk in hospitals nationwide. Each year in the United States, approximately 165,000 hospitalized patients get C. diff – and 9,000 of them (5.4 percent) die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cooley Dickinson has had no hospital-acquired deaths from C diff. in 2011.
Sharing Best Practice Levin presented CDH's data last week with infectious diseases and infection prevention physicians, providers and practitioners from around the globe at the 42nd annual Infectious Diseases Society of America conference held in Boston in late October.
"We were the first hospital in the U.S. to implement Xenex's UV light technology facility-wide," said Levin, an infectious prevention physician who has practiced in the field for more than 20 years. She said the results were so dramatic that "we had to let the Infectious Disease and Infection prevention world know about it."
"The forward-thinking work of Dr. Levin and her team at CDH is paving the way for other hospitals around the country," says Dr. Mark Stibich, Chief Scientific Officer of Xenex Healthcare Services. "Other facilities are looking at the CDH results and getting an understanding of how the Xenex disinfection will improve their HAI rates, and most importantly, save patient lives."
Understanding C.diff C. diff is a bacterium that causes inflammation of the colon. According to the CDC, the elderly and people who have other illnesses or conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics are at greater risk of acquiring this disease. What makes the C.diff germ is especially virulent is that the organism can make spores, which are like seeds with a hard shell. Even strong hospital cleaning products can't penetrate the shell. Subsequently, C.diff can live in an environment for months. In one study, C.diff disease was found on 49 percent of surfaces in hospital rooms housing a patient with the infection and on 29 percent of surfaces in rooms with a patient who carries the germ but has no symptoms, according to a March 2011 report in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
The Technology UV light has long been used as a hospital disinfectant, starting in the 1950s when it was used to clean the air in TB wards. Levin said the light fell out of favor over the years due to maintenance and cost concerns. Brian Cruver, CEO of Xenex, manufacturer of the portable UV light product, said that other room disinfection technologies have been in use for several years. Now, Cooley Dickinson Hospital's results "offer proof to hospitals of what our unique pulsed-xenon technology can do," Cruver added.
According to Xenex, the UV disinfection system has consistently shown to be more than 20 times more effective against C. diff and other "superbugs" than standard cleaning practices alone. The Xenex system quickly kills microorganisms on surfaces and in the air without contact or additional chemicals. The UV light penetrates the cell walls of the germ – fusing their DNA together – leading to instant damage, the inability to reproduce or mutate and killing the organism.
Reducing other hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) According to the CDC, HAIs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Said Levin, "the use of UV light is only one of many programs CDH has in place to prevent the in-hospital spread of drug-resistant organisms such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)," another infection that the CDC considers a public health threat, as well as 11 others.
"We are striving to eliminate the transmission of infections through a combination of best cleaning practices, hand hygiene, surveillance and technology, such as the hospital-wide use of UV room disinfection," added Levin. "We are more aggressively implementing these practices and our effort is paying off for our patients."
ABOUT COOLEY DICKINSON HOSPITAL Cooley Dickinson, a full-service community hospital, is ranked in the top 5 percent of all U.S. hospitals in patient safety by HealthGrades®, the country's leading independent health care ratings organization. It is the only hospital in the Springfield area to achieve the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ for three consecutive years. Cooley Dickinson's staff of 1,650 professionals and nearly 400 affiliated physicians comprise a network of emergency, surgical, clinical, rehabilitative, hospice and home care expertise that treats 40,000 emergency patients per year, delivers 800 babies, and collaborates with Massachusetts General Hospital to deliver comprehensive cancer care. Cooley Dickinson's vision is to be the nation's premier not-for-profit community hospital, able to provide local access to the most advanced clinical treatments in a caring and neighborly setting. Learn more at www.cooley-dickinson.org.
ABOUT XENEX HEALTHCARE SERVICES Xenex develops pulsed xenon UV disinfection systems for the advanced cleaning of the patient environment in healthcare facilities. The Xenex system is the fastest, safest, most portable and easy to use system available today among room disinfection technologies. The Xenex mission is to significantly reduce the number of HAIs that impact the health and lives of millions of patients and their families and become the new standard method for disinfection in healthcare facilities worldwide. For more information, contact Melinda_Hart@xenex.com or visit http://www.xenex.com/.
For Immediate Release: Nov. 7, 2011
Contact: Christina Trinchero, Cooley Dickinson Hospital Marketing Communications (413) 582-2421
Cooley Dickinson Hospital • 30 Locust St. (Route 9), Northampton, Mass. • (413) 582-2000