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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid