News / Health

    Robotic Vaporizers Reduce Hospital-Borne Infections

    Hydrogen-peroxide vaporizers (Photo by Bioquell) Hydrogen-peroxide vaporizers (Photo by Bioquell)
    x
    Hydrogen-peroxide vaporizers (Photo by Bioquell)
    Hydrogen-peroxide vaporizers (Photo by Bioquell)
    Jessica Berman
    It's a growing problem for hospitals around the world: strains of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria contaminating operating and recovery rooms.  To combat this serious threat to patient health, two dozen U.S. hospitals are now using robotic, hydrogen-peroxide vaporizers to sanitize rooms where infected patients have stayed.  A new study finds that use of the vaporizers' germ-killing mist has significantly lowered the number of hospital-borne infections.

    Hospitals can be a haven for many types of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.  The microbes can survive on hard surfaces long after an infected patient has been discharged.

    Traditional hand-cleaning and mopping of individual rooms between patients, using simple anti-bacterial cleansers, often leave some microbes behind, according to Trish Perl, a professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

    “There are very complicated surfaces with equipment and little nooks and crannies that are hard to clean.  They (the cleaning staff) are given a short period of time to clean rooms and they simply can’t physically get everything clean before the room turns over,” Perl said.

    So, researchers led by Perl conducted the first comprehensive study to see if they could reduce the risk of transmitting antibiotic-resistant organisms.  They compared traditional disinfecting methods to standard cleaning, adding the disinfecting robots.

    Perl says the mobile vaporizers resemble R2D2 -- the little dome-topped robot in the Star War movies -- with a spray nozzle on top.

    “And it spins around the room.  So it turns its head 360 degrees,” Perl said.

    The nozzle emits a fine mist of hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial bleaching agent.  Because the bleach can be toxic to humans if ingested or inhaled, a second vaporizing robot is wheeled into a room to spray a solution that breaks down the hydrogen peroxide into harmless water and oxygen molecules, according to Perl.

    "It doesn't destroy hospital surfaces, including equipment surfaces - things like computers and all this technological stuff you find in buildings," Perl said.

    Hopkins researchers closely monitored some 6,300 patients who stayed in 180 private rooms over a 2 1/2 year period.  Half of the rooms were disinfected only by hand, while the other half were also treated with the robotic vaporizers.

    In the end, 21 percent of the rooms harbored drug-resistant organisms, most of them not sanitized by the robots, while the hydrogen peroxide-vaporizing machines reduced by 64 percent the number of patients who later contracted a hospital-borne infection.  They also lowered the risk of infection with drug-resistant enterococci by 80 percent.

    The twin robots are expensive.  Together, they cost about $40,000.  Perl says she hopes that Bioquell, the U.S. manufacturer, can bring down that price eventually so the devices will be more affordable to hospitals in developing countries.

    The sanitizing machines were first used in several Singapore hospitals in 2002 during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

    An article on the effectiveness of vapor-dispensing robots in controlling hospital infections is published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

    You May Like

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs at Global Summit Tackle Range of Challenges

    Innovators strive to halt sexual harassment in India, improve rural health in Myanmar, build businesses in Africa

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora