New lighting technology fights hospital superbugs
By Karen Sprey
November 16, 2010
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is one of the most prevalent and difficult to eradicate superbugs in hospitals, having become resistant to multiple antibiotics. A less well known bacterium Clostridium difficile (C diff), is also antibiotic resistant and on the increase. Infection prevention procedures used to address one superbug will not work for others, and traditional decontamination methods can be harmful to staff and patients. This new lighting system that kills bacterial pathogens but is harmless to humans may help beat this potentially deadly threat in our hospitals. The technology decontaminates the air and exposed surfaces by bathing them in a narrow spectrum of visible-light wavelengths, known as HINS-light.
The technology has been developed by a team at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Clinical trials have shown significantly greater reductions of superbugs like MRSA and C diff in the hospital environment than can be achieved by cleaning and disinfection alone.
"Decontamination methods involving gas sterilants or UV-light can be hazardous to staff and patients, while cleaning, disinfection and hand washing, although essential routine procedures, have limited effectiveness and problems with compliance," said Professor Scott MacGregor, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and one of the research team that developed the new technology.
A major benefit of the HINS-light is that the light treats air and all visible surfaces regardless of accessibility. Reflected exposure to HINS-light is also effective.
The HINS-light has a violet hue, however the team have developed a warm white light version using LEDs that can be used alongside normal hospital lighting hospitals, continuously disinfecting wards and isolation rooms.