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UV Disinfection: Upping the Ante on Infection Control

By CME Corp Staff | October 17, 2023

Did you know, it has been proven that just two minutes of UV-C cleaning in addition to manual cleaning, even with chemical cleaners, can reduce a bacterial load by 70% 1?

It’s true.

According to the CDC, “UV can kill all bacteria, including drug-resistant bacteria because UV light is actually attacking the DNA and RNA of microbes. While the amount of UV needed to kill a microbe may vary as there is a relationship between the size of DNA molecules and the effect of UV radiation, there have been no reports of microbes demonstrating an ability to build an immunity to light-based methods.”2

One of the important points to note in the CDC statement is that UV “can kill all bacteria.” This means that UV-C is a disinfectant rather than a sanitizer. Sanitization only reduces the number of germs on the surface of an object, a counter for example, while disinfectants kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Although sanitize and disinfect are not clinically interchangeable terms, many UV products sold commercially are called UV Light Sanitizers. By virtue of using UV-C light, these devices do in fact disinfect or kill the bacteria that can cause healthcare associated infections (HAI).

Based on an item’s intended use, a healthcare policy may not require sterilization but will indicate a requirement for disinfection.


Types of UV Light Disinfection

Ultraviolet disinfection is used in healthcare environments to add an additional layer of protection against HAIs, complementing traditional cleaning and disinfection methods. Patient rooms, operating rooms, intensive care units, and other high infection risk areas benefit from UV light disinfection.

A study funded by the U.S. CDC found that the transmission of the four most common superbugs, MRSA, VRE, C. difficile, and Acinetobacter can be reduced by 30% cumulatively. 3 through the use of UV disinfection.

That is huge.

There are two methods of UV disinfection commonly used in healthcare facilities, UV-C Room Disinfection and UV-C Surface Disinfection.

UV-C Room Disinfection

Room disinfection uses overhead fixtures or free standing, mobile systems to emit UV-C light into and throughout a room. Germicidal UV-C light penetrates the genetic matter of microorganisms and prevents them from replicating by damaging the DNA or RNA.

Following a thorough, traditional cleaning of a room, a patient room for example, UV disinfection lights are set for a specific length of time, often 10 to 15 minutes. However, the duration of the UV light disinfection process can be adjusted based on the size of the room and/or the intensity of the UV-C light.

The characteristic blue glow of the lights indicates that the systems are actively disinfecting the area. When the UV disinfection cycle is complete the lights automatically turn off.

The room is now ready to receive new patients.

UV-C Surface Disinfection

Surface disinfection is accomplished by moving handheld or portable UV-C devices over medical equipment, instruments, surfaces, and other high touch areas. Some countertop UV-C equipment allows smaller items to be placed in the device.

This method of UV disinfection is also used to augment manual cleaning and disinfection to ensure a thorough cleaning, especially for hard-to-reach spaces. Although a bit of a misnomer, handheld or countertop UV-C light devices may be referred to as UV light sanitizers.


Benefits of UV Disinfection

Viruses and bacteria cannot resist the germ-killing effects of UV light disinfection.

99.9% of pathogens, including superbugs that have developed a resistance to antibiotics and chemical cleaners, can be killed by UV-C lighting. UV light disinfection methods have been shown to kill anything from tuberculosis to the common cold, flu, and pathogens similar to novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

While adding an additional layer of protection against HAIs to patients, healthcare staff, and visitors is the most obvious benefit of UV disinfection, there are several other notable benefits.

  • UV disinfection methods are chemical free and non-toxic.
  • UV light disinfection is quick and efficient, a critical benefit in the current healthcare landscape.
  • Ultraviolet disinfection can reach areas, such as the underside of patient room furniture, which may be difficult to thoroughly clean manually.
  • Science has shown the disinfection properties of UV lighting to be reliable for over 140 years.


Important Ultraviolet Disinfection Considerations

As technology to replicate UV-C light wavelengths continues to evolve, UV disinfection is becoming more common in a wide range of healthcare facilities.

It is critically important to remember that UV light disinfection is not a standalone solution to mitigating HAIs but rather an adjunct to traditional infection prevention measures.

Although not deal breakers, there are several other important points to remember when considering UV disinfection systems.

  • UV-C light can be harmful to the eyes and skin, so precautions such as wearing protective gear should be implemented by staff responsible for UV disinfection procedures.
  • Staff training is necessary to ensure that UV-C technology is used properly, and proper precautionary steps are taken, such as PPE and signage for rooms being disinfected with UV-C light.
  • Regular maintenance and calibration of UV light disinfection systems are essential to ensure effectiveness.

For healthcare environments, from hospitals and surgical centers to long term and rehabilitation facilities, UV light disinfection is a powerful partner in the never-ending battle to eliminate HAIs.


CME is the trusted source for UV Disinfection Systems

As a premier medical equipment distributor, CME has established relationships with UV disinfection system manufacturers. Our experts can help you source the best UV-C light equipment for your facility’s needs and budget.

Biomedical contracts are available to ensure that UV light disinfection systems and other critical medical equipment receive annual calibration and maintenance to ensure continued performance at optimal levels.

Click the CHAT button to speak with a CME expert about UV-C light medical equipment.

1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12879-017-2792-z
2. https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/
3. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31588-4/fulltext


About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipmentturnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.


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