Robot helps to battle hospital acquired infections

With hospital acquired infections around the country going largely underreported, now, more than ever, executives are looking for innovative ways to emphasize hygiene and cleanliness at their facilities. One solution--a robot that uses flashes of ultraviolet light to sterilize and kill germs--has proven successful at several hospitals over the past year, reports CNNMoney.

The robot, known as the Xenex, was developed by researchers at the Houston Technology Center in 2009, but just in the last year has helped one hospital in Massachusetts reduce hospital acquired infections from C. diff by close to 70 percent, and four more in North Carolina lower  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections by 35 percent.

Joanne Levin, medical director for the infection prevention program at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass., tells CNNMoney that in the year prior to using Xenex (2010), one out of every 129 patients was infected with C. diff. She said that since last January, the hospital likely saved five lives and prevented two colostomies.

Cone Health, meanwhile, a five-hospital system in North Carolina, lowered the MRSA infection rate at its hospitals to zero after implementing the technology last January, saving it in the neighborhood of $3 million, according to Chief Quality Officer Mary Jo Cagle.

About 24 hospitals use Xenex technology, CNNMoney reports. The robots cost about $80,000 per unit.

A white paper released by GE last summer called for more hospitals to implement health IT as a means for combating HAIs. According to the paper, HAIs cost the U.S. healthcare system as much as $88 billion annually.

To learn more:
- check out the CNNMoney article