Ohio Hospital Reduces C. difficile Using Latest High-Tech Disinfection Weapon from Medline

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Mercy Health - Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati is reporting excellent results in reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), since implementing a new technology that uses ultraviolet light to eliminate harmful bacteria. Mercy Health is the first hospital in Ohio, one of a handful throughout the country, to deploy the latest high-tech disinfection weapon called IRiS™, which stands for Intelligent Room Sterilization™ system. IRiS is distributed exclusively by Medline Industries, Inc. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that across the United States one out of every 20 patients contracts an infection in the hospital. Patients’ immune systems are often compromised, and there is the potential for viral and bacterial cross contamination from surfaces that can cause infections. The culprit is often invisible, hard-to-kill bacteria that can lead to dangerous infections. These bugs are particularly tricky since they can survive for weeks on hard surfaces found in every hospital patient room, such as counters, phones or handrails, making it difficult to reach every “nook and cranny” through traditional room cleaning and disinfecting.

With the help of IRiS, the newest member of Mercy Health – Anderson Hospital’s disinfection team, the risk of HAIs dropped significantly at the hospital. In particular, the hospital’s C. diff rate has dropped more than 32 percent since last summer when their environmental team began using IRiS, also affectionately known by hospital staff as the “Germinator.”

“We are seeing a steady decrease in the incidence of C. diff, VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci) and other harmful bacteria that can really impact patients,” says Kathy Puthoff, RN, infection control nurse at Anderson Hospital. In the same study, the hospital reported that VRE is also down 83 percent since last summer.  

C. diff is a common and highly contagious healthcare-associated infection, which is becoming one of the most deadly, costly and hard to prevent infections. According to the CDC, deaths related to C. diff are at an all-time high, with more than 14,000 occurring last year alone. C. diff can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

IRiS resembles something out of a science fiction movie. IRiS stands about 5 feet tall and is 2 feet around, encased by ultraviolet lamps or emitters. It produces the highest intensity UV-C field available on wheels and generally takes less than 15 minutes to treat a typical patient room, compared to an average of 30 minutes to 50 minutes for standard cleaning procedures. 

With results like this, IRiS is now being put to work at Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital, also located in the Greater Cincinnati area, as well as at other hospitals around the country who are reporting similar results in reducing HAIs and improving patient safety.

“We already do a tremendous job of reducing the risk of infection to our patients, but we want to do everything we can to provide an even safer environment,” says Gayle Heintzelman, site administrator at Clermont Hospital. “The results clearly show that this system makes a difference. Not only are we able to improve the cleaning process with IRiS, we are able to do it while still providing the same high level of service our patients have come to expect.”

IRiS also provides Steri-Trak™ Service Documentation technology so that Mercy can keep track of who uses the device, when it is used, where it is used as well as whether the UV treatment was completed. The data is used to document the UV-C treatment of the room, which helps facility supervisors more effectively manage their cleaning and disinfecting programs.

“This web-based real-time documentation provides accountability for the disinfection process,” says Lorri Downs, BSN, MS, RN, CIC, a board certified infection preventionist and vice president of infection prevention and patient safety for Medline. “This is especially important because some facilities are dealing with very serious infection prevention issues, and they have to be sure quality control measures are in place assuring that rooms are being cleaned and disinfected according to current guidelines to prevent cross contamination.”  

IRiS is exclusively distributed in North America by Medline, based in Mundelein, Ill., and is manufactured in Michigan by Infection Prevention Technologies, LLC.

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