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Robot solution to hospital superbugs

March 12, 2017
  • Sutter Medical Center Sacramento has a new weapon in the fight to reduce hospital-acquired infections — a portable robot that kills harmful germs and bacteria, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
  • The Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot uses pulsing xenon ultraviolet light to destroy resilient superbugs and multidrug-resistant organisms like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile.
  • Sutter is the first hospital in its region to use the robot, representatives told the Business Journal.

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) have become a major problem nationwide. One in 25 patients has at least one HAI at any given time, according to the CDC.

At $100,000 a pop, the new robot — nicknamed Xhaiden I — isn’t cheap, but neither are HAIs, which rack up billions in hospitals costs each year. And its ability to clean patient rooms in five to 10 minutes puts it ahead of similar robots, which can take up to 25 minutes to do the same job.

Thorough cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces is crucial to effective infection prevention and control, and newer technologies like ultraviolet light and real-time locating systems are helping hospitals move the needle forward.

While routine cleaning and sterilization remain important, UV light can kill germs they miss in hard to reach spaces, and is often used to disinfect rooms following discharge of patients with multidrug-resistant infections to prevent transmission to the next patient. ECRI Institute included UV-C LEDs, a newer option that emits light in the deep UV range, in its 2017 watch list of emerging technologies.

Xhaiden I joins a growing fleet of robots that are making waves across the healthcare spectrum, from germ fighters to surgical robots to robots that transport food, medical supplies and biohazardous wastes. Annual shipments of healthcare robots could top 10,000 by 2021, nearly triple the roughly 3,400 that shipped in 2016.

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