Healthcare News & Insights

Combo cleaning system highly effective at killing superbugs

Having cleaning products and procedures that would practically guarantee the eradication of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), or so-called superbugs, is a dream of any hospital. Think about preventing the spread of these MDROs and how much money it would save your hospital.

Infection control experts at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) have found that using a robot-like device that disperses a bleaching agent into the air and then detoxifies the disinfecting chemical is highly effective at killing and preventing the spread of MDROs.

The study was published in the Jan. 1 edition of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Study methodology

In the study, hydrogen peroxide vaporizers were placed in single hospital rooms after routine cleaning to disperse a thin film of the bleaching hydrogen peroxide across all exposed hospital equipment surfaces, as well as on room floors and walls.

JHH closely tracked 6,350 patient admissions during its two-and-a-half-year study, as they moved in and out of 180 private rooms. In between patients, approximately half the rooms got the enhanced cleaning method with the hydrogen peroxide vapor, while the rest just got the regular cleaning procedure.

Results showed that the enhanced cleaning reduced the number of patients who later became contaminated with any of the most common drug-resistant organisms by 64%. And the enhanced cleaning reduced by 80% a patient’s chances of getting vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), an aggressive and hard-to-treat bacterium.

In addition to VRE, researchers also tested patients and their surroundings for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile and Acinetobacter baumannii.

Results also showed that MDROs were found on room surfaces in 21% of the rooms tested, but mostly in rooms that didn’t get the enhanced cleaning.

Positive outcomes

Patients who bring in or pick up MDROs are a major problem in hospitals, finding a way to prevent these costly to treat MDROs would save hospitals big bucks.

“Our goal is to improve all hospital infection control practices, including cleaning and disinfection, as well as behavioral and environmental practices, to the point where preventing the spread of these multiple-drug-resistant organisms also minimizes the chances of patients becoming infected and improves their chances of recovery,” Dr. Trish Perl, M.Sc,  infectious disease specialist and study senior investigator, said in a news release.

The portable devices that were used in the study weighed about 60 pounds and were the size of a washing machine.

“What is so exciting about this new method of infection control is that the devices are easy to use and hospital staff embrace it very quickly,” said Dr. Pamela Lipsett, MHPE, surgeon and study co-investigator. She went on to say that before room cleanings, staff were “wheeling in” other pieces of equipment so they also could be decontaminated by the hydrogen peroxide vapor.

Due to the positive results of the study, JHH has purchased two more decontaminating units and will use them to decontaminate rooms that often house high-risk patients under strict isolation precautions due to MDROs.


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