When it comes to delaying a patient’s admission in order to use an automated ultraviolet (UV-C) decontamination device, health care workers are a bit less likely to be on board than environmental services (EVS) workers and patients, researchers say.

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the majority of survey respondents say they are willing to accept up to a 30-minute patient admission delay in order to use a UV-C device for terminal room cleaning. 

However, while nearly all of the EVS staff and patients surveyed (94% and 90%, respectively) said they would be willing to deal with the extra time needed to use the device, only 85% of health care workers said they would be willing to accept the delay. 

The study, “Perceptions of Patients, Health Care Workers, and Environmental Services Staff Regarding Ultraviolet Light Room Decontamination Devices,” involved questionnaires given to 102 patients, 130 health care workers and 47 EVS staff across four medical-surgical units at a tertiary care hospital where UV-C devices were being used over a six-month period. As the hospital conducted studies on the devices’ effectiveness to reduce health care-associated infections, the researchers also observed different opinions about the safety and benefits of UV-C devices. 

Nearly all among the three stakeholder groups (99%) agreed that environmental disinfection is important to reduce the risk of exposure from contaminated surfaces. However, as the study drilled into more specific questions, differences in opinion did appear. 

For instance, when asked if the use of UV-C as an addition to routine cleaning increased confidence that rooms are clean, 98% of EVS staff and 96% of patients said yes, while 89% of health care workers agreed. When asked about the safety of UV-C devices, 86% of patients said they had no concerns about UV-C devices, compared to 79% of EVS staff and 76% of health care workers. 

The researchers say that the presence of a strong odor after using a UV-C device may contribute to the higher number of concerns regarding safety among the actual users of the devices. The study’s authors say that education is key to overcoming safety concerns and to help close the gap between other differing opinions among the three stakeholder groups. 

“Through continued education and clear safety protocols, we can continue to address safety concerns and improve perceptions of UV-C light technology,” the study’s researchers write. “Further studies are necessary to clarify the impact of various strategies on the perception of UV-C light as a means of decontamination in hospitals.”