Comparative effectiveness of rapid-cycle ultraviolet decontamination to chemical decontamination on high-touch communication devices

Published:April 13, 2019DOI:


      This quantitative, comparative-descriptive study of inpatient units in a large military medical center was designed to compare the effectiveness of compact ultraviolet (UV-C) decontamination to standard chemical decontamination in reducing the microbial burden on Vocera (San Jose, CA) communication devices and to characterize changes in staff cleaning practices following UV-C device implementation.


      Aerobic and anaerobic swabs were used to collect microbial samples from Vocera devices (n = 60) before and after chemical decontamination (first sampling) and before and after UV decontamination (second sampling). Cleaning behaviors were assessed by observation and oral inquiry during the baseline sampling and surveyed 8 weeks after UV-C device implementation. Outcomes included aerobic and anaerobic colony-forming units and prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, or Clostridium difficile, as determined by standard microbiological methods.


      No differences were found between the two cleaning methods in their ability to reduce aerobic bacteria; however, UV-C was significantly more effective at reducing bacteria grown anaerobically (P < .01). This study elucidated an 8.3% prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on Vocera devices in the inpatient environment. Initially, 42% of respondents reported deviations from manufacturer's cleaning guidelines, and 16.7% reported daily or more frequent cleaning of the Vocera devices.


      After implementation, UV-C decontamination reduced average cleaning time by 43% and increased the rate of daily Vocera cleaning to 86.5%. Respondents reported an overall 98% user satisfaction with the UV-C device.

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