They’re the unseen visitors in hospitals. But they can be fatal.
Germs that cause hospital-acquired infections – lurking in the bloodstream and surgical wounds – are a stubbornly difficult problem for hospitals, which are continually seeking better ways to banish bacteria and germs that can be killers.
Last week, Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento showed off its first-ever “germ-zapping” robot, a wheeled machine that emits pulsating ultraviolet light that’s been shown to kill off infection-causing bacteria. It’s even got a name, chosen by hospital staffers: Xhaiden, an American baby name said to mean “beam of cleansing light.”
“The robot gives us one more tool in the arsenal,” said Debbie Sandberg, director of environmental services for Sutter Health Medical Center in Sacramento, which started using Xhaiden in mid-February. “People want to know they’re in a clean environment. This gives everyone more confidence from a patient-safety perspective.”
Resembling a bug zapper or camping lantern, Xhaiden’s pop-up UV cylinder emits blinding-white, xenon-fueled light that bounces into walls, floors, ceilings and hard-to-clean crevices, places where manual cleaning might miss. On any eight-hour shift at Sutter, Xhaiden goes to work primarily in areas where patients are most at risk for infections: pediatric oncology, cardiac surgery and bone marrow transplant rooms. The high-intensity UV light passes through the cell walls of bacteria, viruses and bacterial spores to break down or destroy them.