Although ultraviolet light (UV) has been proven to effectively destroy pathogenic bacterium, such as Clostridioides difficile spores, its use alone may not be enough to reduce health care-associated C. diff infection rates. That’s the conclusion of a study recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control

Authors of the research, “The effect of pulsed xenon ultraviolet light disinfection on health care-associated Clostridioides difficile rates in a tertiary care hospital,” conducted a two-phase study using portable pulsed-xenon UV disinfecting devices. The devices were used for terminal room cleaning of six units at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. 

Previous to implementation, the researchers measured C. diff rates over the course of nine months, and then measured those same rates for nine months following implementation of the systems. They observed no significant change in rates. 

During phase 1 of the study, the rate of health care-associated C. diff infection per 1,000 patient days for the units stood at 1.57. In phase 2, the rate clocked at 1.61 of 1,000 patient days for the same hospital units. 

The researchers note that although UV light disinfection has proven a useful tool in infection control, a holistic program is necessary to reduce infection rates. Optimal environmental cleaning, hand-hygiene compliance, early identification of patient infection and more are all key. 

“It is possible that one or more of these factors, if suboptimal, negated any positive,” the researchers write.