UV Ray Machines Used to Disinfect Hospitals

Dennis Faas's picture

Vancouver General Hospital is testing a new, super-efficient robotic machine capable of ridding small- and medium-sized rooms of bacteria.

Called Tru-D SmartUVC, the device uses powerful ultraviolet light to sanitize an enclosed area. It measures 1.65 meters tall and has long bulbs running vertically up a round, clear shaft (it resembles an illuminated R2D2).

When the machine is activated, a mechanical voice gives a 15-second countdown. While this is happening, Tru-D measures reflections from the ultraviolet light to determine the size of its surroundings and calculates how much exposure will be required for disinfection.

The process is different for each room and the wait time can last anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour. (Source: cbc.ca)

Virus Outbreak Creates Need for Additional Supports

Vancouver General Hospital will employ the machine during a five-month trial period. The hospital felt it necessary to pursue additional sanitation support after being hit with a norovirus outbreak in recent months (infection rates were actually several times higher than the average in other hospitals).

But Vancouver General Hospital is not alone.

Medical facilities all across North America have been searching for ways to protect their patients from potentially dangerous superbugs, such as norovirus or C. difficile.

Cleaning Beforehand, Size Potential Setbacks

Unfortunately, Tru-D does have a few limitations.

For starters, Tru-D is not meant to be used as a sanitation defense mechanism alone. Ironically, its effectiveness is dependent on whether or not the empty room has already been cleaned by the medical staff beforehand.

But since hospital personnel perform these tasks already, there are no real changes being made to current practices.

The real problem is the size of the machine, as it cannot be moved on its own and needs to be wheeled from room to room in order to perform its duties.

Second UV Cleaning Device to Be Tested

Despite its bulkiness, Tru-D does appear to be having a positive impact on hospital sanitation. According to Dr. Elizabeth Bryce, medical director for infection control at Vancouver Coastal Health, "we've been very impressed with the almost complete eradication of organisms, even when we take it to high concentrations." (Source: calgaryherald.com)

In response to the early positive results, Vancouver General Hospital has revealed plans to test another ultraviolet disinfection device, PulseRx.

A comparison of the two devices will ultimately decide whether the British Columbia government will commit to using either of the machines. Each can currently sell for up to $100,000 apiece.

However, given that these machines could stop the spread of potentially deadly illnesses, that could be money well spent.

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