Looking to Fit Ultraviolet Disinfection into Hospital Systems


Ultraviolet light should be used in concert with traditional cleaning and disinfection procedures utilized by environmental services teams, study’s author maintains.

Ultraviolet C devices (UVC-D) used after standard cleaning procedures in hospitals can dramatically reduce pathogens in microscopic samples, or colony forming units (CUFs), according to a study unveiled this week at the annual conference of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). The study, presented by Gabriele Messina, PhD, a professor of public health at the University of Siena in Italy, concludes that UVC-D can cut CFUs by 97.3%. In an interview with Infection Control Today®, Messina talks about how UVC-D could be used in the real world. For instance, his study states that “in some situations, UVC light was sufficient to reduce CFU to zero, even without chemical and mechanical cleaning. However, we do not recommend this approach, considering correct to apply UVC light disinfection only after sanitization procedures since it does not remove dirt.”

Gabriele Messina, PhD

Gabriele Messina, PhD

Which begs the question: Doesn’t this add another step to the cleaning and disinfecting process for environmental services (EVS) teams that may already feel that they have enough on their plate?

Messina contends that it all depends on how the technology is used. He says that the cost can be “balanced” for the “structure who wants to adopt it, but also it can be very effective in reducing the possibility of cross contamination in the environment, including, of course, hospitals.”

In addition, Messina says that UVC-D does not add that much more time to the cleaning process. “Three or six minutes, on average, it's not a big issue,” he tells ICT®. “It’s something that you can insert into a protocol.”

There’s also the matter that UVC-D cannot be applied while there are patients or unprotected health care personnel in the room. And proper training will be a must. “You can have very good devices, but if you don’t have a well-trained health professional, the user is not going to be very effective.”

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