(10/07/13) - Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing, but for many, just
being inside one is a danger. About 2 million Americans suffer from
hospital-acquired infections every year. Now, hospitals have a new way to reduce
the risk - a robot!
You can't see them, but they are everywhere - dangerous bacteria that could make you sick, even kill you.
"I really felt like I was dying. I was very sick," says Ellen Blackwell, who had c diff, an infection that causes severe diarrhea, fever, pain and cramping.
"And it comes on extremely fast," Ellen adds.
C diff is among several super-bugs, becoming increasingly common in hospitals across the country. The powerful infections claim 100,000 lives every year.
"These organisms are smart. They're always a step ahead of us," says Sash Madison, director of infection prevention at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
Now, a robot, called Xenex, aims to outsmart even the toughest strains of bacteria. First, hospital workers spend about 45-minutes cleaning and disinfecting.
"Following that, we bring this machine in to further disinfect the room," says Stanford's Brad Igler.
Xenex uses UV pulsating light to disrupt an organism's DNA, killing spores, bacteria, viruses, and mold. It takes about 5-10 minutes per room.
"So what we're trying to do is bring those organisms way, way, way down," Madison says.
It can be used in patient rooms, the ER, and even operating rooms. In one study, researchers found the robot reduced surface contamination in the OR by 81 percent and air contamination by 46 percent.
"We have a higher level of assurance that room is truly the cleanest it can be for our patients," and Madison says, that means a safer stay for patients.
About 100 hospitals across the country have the disinfecting robots. An average-sized hospital, with about 120 beds, would need two Xenex devices to clean all its rooms. Each one costs about $80,000 and can be bought or leased.
ABC12 Main Station