A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report provided a scary snapshot of the threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs in the U.S., with special focus paid to pathogens such as Clostridium difficile (C.diff) – termed an urgent threat. According to the report, each year in the U.S., at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.
C.diff is a serious intestinal infection that can cause diarrhea, colitis and even death. Many hospital patients, especially those on antibiotics, are susceptible to C. diff, which can live for up to five months on surfaces in the hospital. Reproduction in a patient’s intestines is aided by broad-spectrum antibiotics and proton-pump inhibitors.  A person with C. diff may contaminate their hospital room and bathroom, leaving C. diff spores on the walls, handles and other high-touch surfaces that can be easily transferred to the next patient or healthcare worker in that room.
Xenex Disinfection Services’ patented pulsed xenon Full Spectrum™ ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technology has proven to quickly destroy the viruses, bacteria, mold, fungus and bacterial spores (like C.diff) that cause infections. A new study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology in January 2015 demonstrated the efficacy of pulsed xenon ultraviolet light (UV) for reducing environmental C.diff contamination on high-touch surfaces in C.diff isolation rooms. In the last two years there have been  10 peer reviewed studies published confirming the efficacy of the Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot™ in the healthcare environment, including three studies showing a decrease in C.diff, MRSA and multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) infections in patients when the hospital utilized the Xenex robot for room disinfection.
New data presented by MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center at the Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference demonstrates how the facility dramatically reduced its C.diff infection rate after it implemented a variety of infection prevention solutions including the use of Xenex germ-zapping robots to disinfect their patient rooms. According to the poster[1], in 2013, MedStar Franklin Square assessed its hospital acquired C.diff infection rates and set goals to reduce the rate from a baseline of 11.4 infections (per 10,000 patient days). They calculated that 88 C.diff infections were responsible for more than $572,000 in potential cost avoidance to the facility annually.
Analysis of the C.diff infections showed that 20 percent of the cases were resulting from a single unit within the facility. After implementing a bundled infection prevention strategy, the facility was able to reduce C.diff infections on that unit by 64 percent (from 14.3 C.diff infections per 10,000 patient days to 5.1).

“We are extremely proud of our C.diff reduction results. We were able to take the hospital unit with the highest rate of C.diff infections and make it one of the lowest in the hospital,” said Matt D’Agostino, BSME, LSSBB, Senior Operational Excellence Specialist at MedStar Health. “C.diff is a global problem and it’s our hope that sharing our C.diff infection reduction success story will educate other facilities about what they can do to achieve similar results in their hospital.”

MedStar’s multi-disciplinary Lean Six Sigma team identified three top causes of C.diff infections. First, precaution supplies were being used inconsistently because they were located in multiple locations and took too long to locate. In response, they bundled the supplies for a C.diff patient into a single pack that the nurse could grab and take into the patient’s room. This cut the time to get supplies by 90 percent. Second was the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics. MedStar created an Antibacterial Stewardship Education program that educated doctors and empowered nurses and pharmacists to speak up about antibiotic usage. This cut the facility’s broad-spectrum antibiotic overuse dramatically.

The third root cause of C.diff infections was human error in the room cleaning process. The team determined that there were numerous cleaning gaps (untouched surfaces), especially on high-touch surfaces like door knobs and light switches. Recognizing that they had to destroy the C.diff spores before they could be transmitted to other patients and workers, the hospital began using Xenex’s pulsed xenon UV technology as part of their terminal cleaning process. The robot quickly eliminates superbugs like C.diff in a five-minute disinfection cycle.

With this bundled approach to infection control, MedStar Franklin Square was able to reduce its C.diff infection rate by 29 percent facility-wide from a rate of 11.4 to 8.1.