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Published on August 25, 2011

Technology Lowers Hospital Infection Rates

Cone Health today announced a dramatic reduction in healthcare-acquired infection (HAIs) rates after implementing an infection prevention program which includes Xenex room disinfection systems.

Cone Health saw zero MRSA cases in its intensive care units, and the total number of HAIs decreased 42 percent during the time period studied. HAIs caused by deadly superbugs such as MRSA, Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and Acinetobacter are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

“At Cone Health, we want our patients to be as safe as possible – and investing in new infection control technologies was a priority. We are elated that the initiatives are working. Patients in our hospitals are safer because their chance of contracting an infection has been greatly reduced. That’s something we can all be excited about,” said Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, Chief Quality Officer, Cone Health.

Cone Health compared HAI data from the first and second quarters of 2010 to the same period in 2011. Using data from its MRSA screening program, an aggressive approach to HAI prevention was developed. Intervention methods included:

• A new “Step Up. Scrub Up.” campaign to renew the organization’s emphasis on consistent hand hygiene for everyone.
• Room-cleaning was supplemented with Xenex’s automated room disinfection system.
• MRSA surveillance testing was expanded from three units to patients in all ICUs, step-down units, high risk and pre-surgical areas.
• Additional infection prevention professionals were added and/or promoted to new roles.
• An electronic data mining system provided real-time data on whether a patient had MRSA so that measures could be taken to prevent spreading it.
• Education of personnel, patients and visitors was expanded.

“The safety and well-being of our patients comes first. I challenged our infection prevention team to eliminate the risk of infections in our hospitals, and they made major strides in that direction. Using a combination of practices, tools and technologies, including Xenex’s room disinfection system, we were able to reduce our MRSA infections to zero in our ICUs. This has had the added benefit of saving the organization and community an estimated $2.3 million in infection-associated hospital costs. We consider the program a success,” said Terry Akin, Chief Operating Officer, Cone Health.

Cone Health is the first hospital in North Carolina to implement Xenex’s automated room disinfection system, which uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet light to destroy viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores in patient areas without contact or chemicals. Uniquely designed for ease of use and portability, the Xenex device can be operated by a hospital’s cleaning staff without disrupting hospital operations or requiring the use of expensive chemicals. The Xenex system is capable of disinfecting dozens of rooms per day, so hospitals can use the system continuously to reduce contamination levels throughout their facilities, including patient rooms, ORs and ICUs.

“The Xenex system was first deployed in late 2010, meaning our early customers have now had enough time to calculate the impact Xenex is having on infection rates,” explains Dr. Mark Stibich, Chief Scientific Officer of Xenex. “Evidence continues to mount that the patient environment and high-touch surfaces in the room play a key role in the spreading of HAIs, and so these results are not surprising when one considers the high level of facility-wide disinfection that the Xenex system provides.”

Studies show the Xenex room disinfection system is consistently 20 times more effective than standard chemical cleaning practices and in one recent study, the Xenex system was shown to reduce customer Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s C.diff infection rate by 82 percent.

Xenex did not sponsor any aspect of Cone Health’s MRSA study. Cone Health’s environmental services department is managed by Sodexo, one of the world’s leading healthcare environmental service providers. Sodexo recently selected Xenex as its preferred partner for the disinfection of Sodexo client facilities.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries related to Cone Health, contact:

Doug Allred, External Communications Manager
(336) 832-8659