Private healthcare group, Netcare, has deployed germ-zapping robots to fight the spread of hospital infections and improve patient safety.

The Xenex Pulsed UV Disinfection Robots can destroy deadly pathogens and multi-drug resistant organisms that can cause hospital acquired infections.

Netcare tested the robot at two facilities – Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital and Netcare Pretoria East Hospital to further boost its existing disinfection measures. The robots have also been enlisted for disinfecting Netcare 911 ambulances.

Senior clinical advisor at Netcare, Dr Caroline Maslo, explained that the Xenex Pulsed Xenon UV Disinfection Robots were recently made available in Africa for the first time, but are becoming an established line of defence against bacteria, viruses and fungi in healthcare facilities across Europe and the US.

“We initially tested the Xenex Pulsed UV Disinfection Robots at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital and Netcare Pretoria East Hospital, where we found that they quickly and efficiently disinfected the areas where they were deployed,” said Dr Maslo.

“Having tested the robots in different settings in the two facilities in separate provinces, we found that the results lived up to the independent international studies endorsing this method of disinfection.

What we found particularly impressive is the fact that the pulsed high-intensity xenon UV light used by the robots is not only highly effective in destroying viruses, bacteria and fungal spores, but is also able to achieve thorough disinfection far more quickly than the other traditional methods, which we continued to use alongside the robots,” continued Dr Maslo.

The robots emit UV-C spectrum light, which destroys the DNA of bacteria, viruses and fungi to neutralise them and prevent them from replicating. Although the technology is non-toxic, the area being cleaned must be vacated during the robot’s disinfection cycle.

According to Dr Maslo, this form of disinfection is particularly useful against antibiotic resistant bacteria, commonly referred to as ‘superbugs’.

Another important benefit is that the robots’ UV light does not result in any residue or potentially harmful by-products, which means it is totally safe for use in even the most sensitive environments, such as neonatal intensive care units where premature and other compromised babies are cared for.

“This new technology does not replace the infection risk management protocols and procedures we already have in place, but are certainly complementing them as an additional weapon in our arsenal against potentially harmful germs,” said Dr Maslo.

Dr Maslo says the robots are not replacing human labour but rather they are empowering their human operators and providing them with a new skills set.

“Introducing this new disinfection technology in Netcare hospitals is a significant step forward and is keeping our facilities abreast of the latest advances in the global fight against microbe resistance in healthcare facilities. We are very encouraged to see the results the robots have shown in Netcare hospitals,” said Managing Director of Netcare’s hospital division, Jacques du Plessis.

“Our new ‘allies’ in infection prevention and control have shown such impressive results internationally and during pilot trials at two of our hospitals, that Netcare recently ordered a second consignment of these highly advanced robots,” concluded du Plessis.

For more information contact, like us on Facebook or tweet us @eHealthNewsZA.