Health Team

New UV light fights bacteria at local hospitals

Posted February 8, 2012

WRAL Health Team

— Patients don't expect to get a serious bacterial infection while in a hospital, but it can happen. Improved surveillance and prevention practices have reduced infection rates. Now, some Triangle hospitals are testing a new tool that kills germs with light.

The tool emits short wave ultraviolet light. Dr. Deverick Anderson, with Duke Raleigh Hospital’s Medicine-Infectious Diseases department, says the light's reflective qualities can reach shadowed areas and get into open cabinets and drawers.

“It is effective, really, against all bugs,” he said, noting that the light is turned on for 15 to 45 minutes in certain rooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored the study at nine North Carolina hospitals to find out how much added patient safety it offers, on top of routine cleaning.

The Triangle-area hospitals involved in the study are Duke, the Durham VA Medical Center, Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC and Rex.

UV light disinfectant New UV light fights bacteria at local hospitals

Polly Padgette, a registered nurse with Duke Raleigh Infection Control, says she thinks the study will “determine a lot of how we use UV light in health care.”

There are risks when using the light, including potential skin damage and damage to the eyes, such as cataracts, but it would require long exposure for that to happen. Hospitals use precaution by turning the light on with a remote control, which is in a different room.

“Do Not Enter” signs are posted rooms with the lights, and sensors are attached to the doors, so if anyone opens it, the light would shut off. Hospital officials say people can look into the rooms through windows and not be harmed.


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  • WHEEL Feb 14, 2012

    This is nothing new, it has been around 50 years that I know of in hospitals to fight staph infections in hospitals.

  • asn0307 Feb 10, 2012

    UV lights have been used in HVAC systems to get rid of the "dirty sock" smell and kill other bacteria for years. Props to hospitals for using it too.

  • technetium9 Feb 9, 2012

    Duke hospital used this technolgy in the Operating rooms up until the mid 1990s. UV light was very damaging to the equipment

  • yy_heart Feb 9, 2012

    that's pretty cool - guess its just like the sun magnified a ton.

    they've known sunlight thru windows kills TB for yrs, so this technology is definitely worthwhile!