News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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The study found that a Robotic vapor-dispersing device kills and prevents spread of Drug-Resistant Organisms in high-risk patients by 64%

There is a new technology for disinfecting healthcare facilities that is likely to be useful for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups.

A team at Johns Hopkins University Hospital recently published a study about their institution’s use of hydrogen peroxide vapor to disinfect hospital rooms.

The study was conducted over two and one-half years and involved hospital rooms used by thousands of patients. The goal of this study was to verify the effectiveness of a new robot-like device, known as Bioquell Q-10. This system disperses a hydrogen peroxide vapor to disinfect hospital rooms and was described in a news release issued by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

Two Devices Used to Disinfect Surfaces in Healthcare Settings

This “no touch” device is a combination of two machines. Each is about the size of a washing machine and each weighs nearly 60 pounds. The manufacturer is Bioquell Inc. (LSE: BQE.L). Based in the United Kingdom, BioQuell’s office in the United States is located in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The study was published in the January 1, 2013, issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study abstract described the first head-to-head comparison of two methods for cleaning hospital rooms. One method is the traditional hand-cleaning and mopping with bleaching agents. The new method is to use hydrogen peroxide vaporizers to kill superbugs and prevent spread of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), according to the news release.

Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide Is a Two-Step Process

The Johns Hopkins team used the device in hospital rooms after routine cleaning. The device disperses a thin film of hydrogen peroxide bleach on all exposed hospital equipment surfaces, as well as floors and walls. After a room was cleaned in the routine manner, vents were covered, the two devices placed inside, and the room sealed off. The larger robot dispenses the hydrogen peroxide and the other robot breaks the chemical down into nontoxic components of water and hydrogen to make it safe for human contact.

John Hopkins Study Conducted Over Two and a Half Years

The study tracked about 6,350 patients moving in and out of 180 hospital rooms in six high-risk hospital units over two and a half years. About half of the rooms received enhanced cleaning with hydrogen peroxide vapor. Researchers routinely tested patients and their surroundings for:

The enhanced cleaning resulted in a 64% reduction in the number of patients infected with the most common drug-resistant organisms. Most notably, the disinfecting vapor reduced a patient’s chances of infection with VRE—an aggressive, hard-to-treat bacterium—by 80%!

Patients occupying the rooms disinfected with the vapor were protected against infection by drug-resistant bacteria regardless of whether or not the room’s previous occupant had been infected, pointed out Trish Perl, M.D., the study’s senior investigator. Perl noted that previous research has shown that patients who occupy hospital rooms previously occupied by infected patients are at greatest risk of becoming infected.

“Hydrogen peroxide vapor, as spread around patients’ rooms by these devices, represents a major technological advance in preventing the spread of dangerous bacteria inside hospitals and, especially, from one patient occupant to the next, even though sick patients were never in the same room at the same time,” she said.

Bioquell Q-10

Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the Bioquell Q-10, a pair of robot-like devices, effectively kills and prevents the spread of drug resistant multiple organisms. One device disperses hydrogen peroxide vapor to kill superbugs in hospitals rooms. The other device detoxifies the chemicals. In regular usage the two devices reduced the incidence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci, or VRE, by 80% and superbugs overall by 64%. (Photo by Bioquell.)

“Our study results are evidence that technological solutions, when combined with standard cleaning, can effectively and systematically decontaminate patients’ rooms and augment other behavioral practices, such as strict hospital staff compliance with hand washing and bathing patients in disinfecting chlorhexidine when they are first admitted to the hospital,” says Perl, who is a senior hospital epidemiologist for Johns Hopkins Health System and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Infection Control Method Is Easy to Use

“What is so exciting about this new method of infection control is that the devices are easy to use and hospital staff embrace it very quickly,” added Pamela Lipsett, M.D., study co-investigator. Lipsett is a surgeon, professor and director of surgical and critical care fellowship training at Johns Hopkins. She noted that before room cleanings, staff wheel in other pieces of equipment to be decontaminated by the hydrogen peroxide vapor.

At the recommendation of the researchers, John Hopkins has purchased two of the Bioquell units at a cost of $40,000 per pair. These devices will be used to decontaminate rooms housing high-risk patients. The devices used during the study were on loan from Bioquell.

So far, the Bioquell device is in use in 20 other facilities nationwide. The press released noted that John Hopkins researchers hope to coordinate testing of the device with other hospital users to validate their findings. They may also conduct larger and longer studies to precisely measure and determine how well the device works against the spread of each hospital superbug. The current study had only sufficient numbers to statistically validate the unit’s effectiveness against VRE.

Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor As Disinfecting Agent is 20 Year-Old Idea

The idea of using hydrogen peroxide vapor as a disinfect agent is nothing new. Hydrogen peroxide vaporizers were first deployed in 2002 by several Singapore hospitals during the SARs (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak and was later stocked by several U.S. government agencies in case of an anthrax attack.

In Canada, infection control expert Dick Zoutman, M.D., FRCPC, developed a similar device. It is marketed by Medizone International, Inc. (OTCBB:MZEI) under the name AsepticSure™. Zoutman is a pathologist affiliated with Queen’s University of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. (See Dark Daily, “New Disinfection Technique for Hospital Rooms Will Be Useful to Clinical Pathology Laboratories,” February 13, 2012.)

It is likely that not much time will pass before progressive clinical laboratory organizations decide to test the use of hydrogen peroxide vapor as a disinfecting method. Given the findings of its use by such institutions as Johns Hopkins University Hospital and others, it is likely to find a place as a useful tool in the ongoing fight to control and prevent infections.

—By Patricia Kirk


Related Information:

Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Enhances Hospital Disinfection of Superbugs

Johns Hopkins Hospital Study Shows Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Technology Reduces Patient Risk of Superbug Infection

An Evaluation of Environmental Decontamination With Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor for Reducing the Risk of Patient Acquisition of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms


Study: Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Beats Standard Disinfection for Multidrug-Resistant Organisms

New Disinfection Technique for Hospital Rooms Will Be Useful to Clinical Pathology Laboratories

AsepticSure™ Hospital Sterilization System Demonstrates Total Eradication of Super Bugs