Staph wars: The robots strike back

Norton Audubon Hospital is waging war on germs with a new robot army.

Think R2-D2 meets an industrial-size vacuum cleaner meets a super-strength tanning bed on wheels and you might be able to visualize a new robot striking back against germs at Norton Audubon Hospital.

The hospital has invested in three Xenex germ-zapping robots, a secret weapon in its fight against hospital-acquired infections like methicillin-resistant Staph infection (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

About 1 in 25 patients in the U.S. gets a hospital-acquired infection every day, and about 75,000 in the U.S. will die from one each year. In other words, more people die from hospital-acquired infections each year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

One of the simplest ways to prevent these infections is by ensuring hospitals are as germ-free as possible. The Norton Audubon Hospital germ-zapping robots can be up to seven times more effective than traditional cleaning and 23 percent faster. For example, the robot can kill C. diff spores in 4 minutes. Disinfecting patient rooms by hand following the standard cleaning protocol takes 12 minutes or less.

“Supporting studies show that use of these machines improves the quality of the patient environment and greatly decreases the possibility of these hospital-acquired conditions,” said Kristin Pickerell, R.N., director, quality and clinical effectiveness, Norton Audubon Hospital.

According to Xenex’s website, the robots can reduce the infection rate for C. diff by 70 percent, MRSA by 57 percent and surgical site infections by 100 percent.

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