Healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, cause a significant portion of illnesses and deaths in the medical field. They're such a concern that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has pinned the reduction of HAIs as a top goal for their agency. HAIs lead to tens of thousands of deaths and many billions of dollars in costs for healthcare facilities nationwide each year (source).
"Every day, HAI results in prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability, increased resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobials, massive additional costs for health systems, high costs for patients and their family, and unnecessary deaths."
Moreover, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has stopped reimbursing hospitals for certain preventable HAIs.
What more motivation do you need to do something about your infection rates?
You probably already know all of this if you work in healthcare. Why are we, a lighting company, even discussing HAIs? Because we have a technology that can help curb the rate of HAIs for the healthcare industry- germicidal UV-C lighting. Research suggests that infection control interventions could be saving hospitals anywhere from $5.7 to $31.5 billion per year, and yet not all available interventions are utilized, like UV-C lights.
Before we dive into available lighting options, let's first define and discuss HAIs. A HAI is an infection that a patient gets in a medical facility while being treated for something else. It's a new problem that wasn't present when that patient came to be treated. They're the most frequent "adverse event" to occur during patient treatment, and they cost billions in dollars (upwards of $33+ billion, to be exact) and thousands of lives, as mentioned, so they're clearly a problem.
The most common types of HAIs include:
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI)
- Central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)
- Surgical site infection (SSI, this is the most common of the four)
- Ventilator-associated events (VAE)
These types of HAIs result in infections such as pneumonia, MRSA, staph, and many others.
Why UV-C lighting?
There are many potential solutions and methods to reduce the risk and spread of HAIs, so why implement UV-C lighting? Well, to start, it is estimated that 20-40% of HAIs result from transmission of pathogens by a healthcare worker after touching another patient or a contaminated surface. So killing germs on surfaces is paramount, and if manual cleaning efforts aren't reliable or consistent, you need an additional method (source). Enter lighting, which is proven to kill these pathogens that, again, manual methods (human error) just might miss.
To drive the point home, the respected source Becker names these five reasons to choose UV-C:
- Manual cleaning is inconsistent.
- Manual cleaning isn't 100% efficacious.
- Antibiotic-resistant organisms can survive on surfaces for weeks to months.
- UV-C helps cover surfaces wipes and chemicals may miss.
- UV-C can help meet patient expectations for cleanliness.
Basically, adding UV-C lighting to your disinfection regimen is an extra layer of security and protection for your patients and staff, and could save your hospital as a result. Plus, you'll set yourself apart in your patients' eyes with this added care.
UV-C Lighting Options
We wrote a whole blog post about fixtures here, but, basically, you have three options:
- Mobile units/towers
Each has its merits, it just depends on your needs. If you'd like to use the same unit on many spaces, buy one that's mobile. On the other hand, if you only want to use it in one operating room, for instance, ceiling or wall-mounted are great options. Either way, know you're getting proven germ-killing technology. And we would never sell you products with unsubstantiated claims.
Preventing HAIs is top of mind in the healthcare industry, and for good reason. Investing in germicidal UV-C light is a tangible step you can take towards lessening HAIs' burden on your hospital or other medical facility.