More than two years ago, I started a journey to find the most effective ultraviolet (UV) light technology to combat health care-associated infections (HAIs) at our health system — mostly Clostridium difficile. Looking back, I believe the route I took produced the best result for our system and gave me insight into helping others on their journeys. 

Although each hospital is different in layout, types of patients and locale, all are concerned with the growing threat from superbugs — bacteria that are resistant to almost all antibiotics. C. difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter are becoming more resistant every day.

My journey began at an AHE conference in 2015 and has been supplemented with my studying articles in the American Journal for Infection Control. Here’s an overview of the steps I took and the criteria I developed:

From discussions at the vendor booths, I discovered that not all systems are alike nor do they all provide the support we require, which meant we would need to run a product trial. 

After speaking with environmental services leaders at other hospitals using UV technology, reviewing information learned at the AHE Exchange, and exploring various studies, I found a system I wanted to trial. I presented this to the infection prevention department staff  to gain their support. They helped to develop a testing method to obtain accurate results, and we were ready to schedule a trial. 

Our chosen vendor held meetings with the unit leadership and my team that included demos and Q&As prior to starting the trial. The vendor committed to being on-site for all shifts to provide guidance.

During the trial, we developed a pro forma using 2016 HAIs for C. difficile and surgical-site infection (SSI) rates. Also, with help from the hospital’s finance team, we gathered cost-of-care data for 2016 C. difficile and SSIs, and used it to determine return on investment.

Other key benefits include: 

  • The device has a microprocessor that minimizes human error and even tells you the most optimal position for the device.
  • Simple software gives clear, visual operational instructions.
  • It is relatively lightweight and easy to move. 
  • 28 bulbs provide a level of intensity that kills all pathogens.
  • Simple displays produce relatively short training sessions.
  • Vendor representatives have given great support to the team.

These tips should serve as a good starting point as you set out on your own journey. Good luck!

Randy Barnes is director of hospitality services at St. Charles Health System’s Bend and Redmond campuses in Oregon.