How Providence St. Peter Hospital reduced HAI-causing bacteria 77%

Microbial threats linger long after patients are discharged, posing a serious risk of infection for new patients. This locks hospital quality management teams into a never-ending battle to disinfect patient rooms of these invisible invaders.

To eliminate these threats, many hospital quality management teams seek efficient disinfection methods like bleach wipes. Weekly bleach "swipes" thoroughly disinfect rooms saturated with past patient particles. However, this practice poses a patient hazard if patients make contact with a surface where the cleaner is still active, potentially exacerbating their already vulnerable condition. Many hospitals turn to a chemical-free cleaning alternative: ultraviolet light. In conjunction with existing cleaning practices, UVC light significantly reduces harmful microbial threats to patients. Devices that emit ultraviolet light can disinfect surfaces within a hospital room in a matter of minutes without using an excess of chemicals.

During an Oct. 8 webinar sponsored by UVC disinfection company Tru-D SmartUVC and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Alice Brewer, Tru-D's director of clinical affairs, discussed how hospitals can benefit from deploying a UVC disinfection system.

"In the real world, by using UVC on only your highest risk rooms, the ones tagged with contact precaution signs, you can really impact the health and safety of every single patient in your hospital, regardless what room they are admitted to or who the previous occupant of that room was," Ms. Brewer said.

Angie Dickson, manager of quality and infection prevention at Olympia, Wash.-based Providence St. Peter Hospital, joined Ms. Brewer on the webinar to demonstrate how her hospital used UVC light to dramatically reduce infection rates of many different organisms, including antibiotic resistant bacteria. Ms. Dickson’s recent years have been spent deploying cutting-edge disinfection methods at Providence St. Peter Hospital, a 390-bed, nonprofit, Magnet-recognized comprehensive medical surgery center, spanning over 11 floors.

Providence St. Peter Hospital began to see an increase in HAIs, including hospital-onset Clostridium difficile and surgical site infections. Ms. Dickson pinpointed the issue: contaminated curtains in patient rooms. Her employees did not have enough time to change the hospital curtains because as soon as one patient was discharged, and the room was cleaned, another patient needed it. To solve the problem, Ms. Dickman researched and found a method that allowed her employees to switch curtains within seconds.

But when Providence St. Peter Hospital's HAI rates increased again, she knew she needed another disinfection strategy. She found Tru-D, a UVC system backed by several studies conducted by external researchers. The BETR-Disinfection study, funded by the CDC, found a 30 percent reduction in transmission risk in rooms with high-exposure when adding UVC to standard cleaning protocols, reducing the likelihood of a patient contracting a hospital-acquired infection, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. As a secondary effect, the process lowered rates of C. Diff and VRE throughout the entire hospital.

"With infection prevention, there is no smoking gun. It takes a different pronged approach to infection prevention, and tapping into technology is one of those key prongs that we felt we needed to get to zero patient harm," Ms. Dickson said.

In an initial six-month pilot, Providence St. Peter Hospital rented two Tru-D devices with the endorsement of the executive team. The target high-risk areas were 13 operating rooms, which can be a breeding ground for C. diff and SSIs. These bacteria are infamous for giving patients HAIs. By targeting these high-risk, high-traffic rooms with UVC technology, rooms could reach a 90 percent disinfection rate with consistent implementation and be safer for post-surgical or critical care patients.

At first, the quality and infection prevention team held weekly meetings with Tru-D’s support. Ms. Dickson’s staff received Tru-D device training and certification along with additional education materials distributed to patients, so they can better understand the cleaning regimens of their rooms. Soon enough, the hospital quality management team wheeled in their devices, and the employees left the room and activated the Tru-D device through a mobile app. The device only takes 25 minutes to disinfect a room. But if the same room were painted with Tru-D’s reflective paint, it cuts the time down by more than half, only taking 10 minutes to clean the same room. The device includes some safety measures, such as a sensor, that if triggered, shuts down the device and alerts the hospital staff that it was shut down while cleaning.

By mid-pilot, the hospital executive team approved the purchase of four Tru-D devices along with two rentals. Now, Providence St. Peter Hospital has seen a 77 percent bacterial reduction rate in its high-risk units and a 36 percent decline in C. Diff. cases across the entire hospital. With their ongoing partnership with Tru-D services, the quality and infection prevention team at Providence St. Peter Hospital holds an array of analytic options, ranging from graphs to heat maps, to better track their disinfection progress, goals and set their sights on future benchmarks to hit.

"When we had over 30 days without a C. Diff incident, our board was very happy and allowed us to celebrate while further educating our staff," said Rebecca Nicodemus, MD, infection preventionist at Providence St. Peter Hospital.

To learn more, watch the webinar hereDownload the webinar slides here.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

The fight to eliminate SSIs — Why OR optimization is essential for better infection control

4 ways to avoid communication errors during patient handoffs

CMS to terminate Texas hospital's Medicare contract over patient safety issues

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