News /

Blogs / 16.05.2024

Pushing the boundaries of hospital cleaning

In hospitals, cleanliness is a critical factor in stopping infection in its tracks, so patients can heal as fast as possible, without picking up any Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) that might slow their discharge.

Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light is a powerful tool in this battle. It’s the shortest wavelength of the three forms of ultraviolet light, making it the most effective generator of UV radiation. Simply put, UVC penetrates the genetic material of micro-organisms and damages their ability to reproduce. In the hospital environment, its decontamination abilities are used either as a preventative measure, or in response to a known infection within an area.

However, until recently, the biggest drawback of using UVC has been the time it takes to thoroughly apply it to all surfaces in a room, as well as being able to guarantee that a ‘full’ decontamination has reached every possible area. When pressure on hospital beds has never been more intense, waiting for a full UVC decontamination can be a serious issue that slows down patient flow.

An innovative approach to UVC decontamination is set to tackle these issues, boosting the effectiveness of the decontamination, whilst cutting the time it takes.

Investigating an innovative UVC approach

Under the guidance of our Head of Healthcare Cleaning and Infection Control, Anna Hallas (MBE), we’ve undertaken ground-breaking research to establish the most effective way to use UVC in a hospital environment.

Ecolab, a global leader in hygiene and infection prevention solutions, approached us to test and validate its new UVC system against the existing standard UVC practice. In turn, we brought in Professor Val Edwards-Jones, an independent microbiology expert, to run a rigorous trial. 

The standard approach to UVC in hospitals involves using a single unit or ‘tower’ to emit the UVC light. With just one source of UVC, effective decontamination means moving the tower around the room to multiple locations – which is time consuming and doesn’t rule out shadowing of areas such as under a hospital bed or behind a cupboard.  

Ecolab’s new approach uses a tower unit and four satellite UVC light emitters that work as a whole to irradiate areas. And, because the satellite units can be tucked into corners or slid under furniture, it vastly improves the chances of a comprehensive decontamination.

Innovation is a clear winner

Professor Edwards-Jones used radiometers to measure the levels of UVC emission throughout the study and put 40 disposable UVC detection devices around the room to measure exposure to radiation. When one of these devices turned pink, that meant it had recorded an effective level of exposure.

The new Ecolab tower-and-satellites system triumphed in the head-to-head trial. The standard single tower had to be repositioned five times to reach 100% exposure, and only just over half of the UVC detection devices turned pink.

In contrast, the tower-and-satellites set-up only had to be repositioned twice and all but one of the UVC detection devices turned pink. This took approximately 20 minutes, cutting the operating time for decontamination by two thirds.

Bringing faster, better UVC decontamination to acute hospitals  

We’re already using this tower-and-satellite UVC system in seven locations within acute hospitals. It’s a huge step forward in the battle against hospital acquired infections, and the NHS Trusts we’re working with are really seeing the benefits in being able to do UVC decontamination in under 20 minutes. It opens the door to more intense and robust cleaning approaches to keep patients and our NHS environments safe. 

To find out how our Medirest teams could bring this rapid and thorough decontamination process to your Trust, get in touch with one of our specialists via email; HEALTHCARESALES@COMPASS-GROUP.CO.UK

Share /