Mayo Clinic Uses Robots Against Hospital Germs

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Mayo Clinic Uses Robots Against Hospital Germs

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic has added robots in its fight against Clostridium difficile (C-diff) bacteria.

In the U.S., C-diff is one of the most common infections patients can get while receiving care at a health care facility. C-diff can cause a variety of symptoms, including potentially deadly diarrhea. A recent national report shows some progress in reducing C-diff infections; however, more work remains.

"C-diff is extremely distressing for our patients," says Priya Sampathkumar, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic's infection control committee on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. "It can be debilitating, decrease quality of life and can even result in death."

Preventing C-diff can be of enormous benefit to patients. But, C-diff spores are resistant to routine hospital disinfectants and require extra cleaning measures. That's where the robots come in. These stationary devices emit pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light that kill C-diff spores on exposed surfaces.

Mayo piloted the devices in October 2014 as part of a quality improvement project with The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and five health care systems nationwide. During the six-month pilot, Mayo saw a 30 percent decrease  in C-diff infections in the group of units that received the robot cleaning compared with the group that did not.

The robots supplement normal cleaning practices, says Larry Nation, director of Environmental Services at Mayo Clinic. The devices go through three cycles in different parts of the patient room and add 25 minutes to the cleaning process.

"It's worth it, because the average increased length of stays for a person with C-diff is three days," Dr. Sampathkumar says. "If we prevent C-diff infections, we gain that time back."

Mayo acquired 10 more robots this past fall. After training, employees started using them in early January.

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to medical research and education, and providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rhoda Madson, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, newsbureau@mayo.edu