How UV light fights germs on mobile devices in healthcare
Friday, June 28, 2019
Ultraviolet rays quickly kill nearly 100% of bacteria found on mobile devices and could ease the spread of contamination in healthcare settings.
The increasing reliance on mobile devices to monitor patients, retrieve data and communicate among teams poses a serious contamination challenge in healthcare settings. Pathogens that build up on cell phones, tablets, personal computers and other technology equipment can spread quickly.
Studies have found that 94% of cell phones used by hospital staff bore contaminants, according to a 2017 report in Infection Control Today. The report also said that 89 medical workplace employees were aware their mobile devices could be a source of contamination, yet only 13 disinfected their phones regularly.
A new device may offer a swift and safe solution. The CleanSlate UV Sanitizer uses ultraviolet light to eradicate 99.9998% of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in 20 seconds, according to manufacturer CleanSlate UV.
UV light acts as a cleaning agent
The CleanSlate sanitizer uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UV-C), which destroys nucleic acids and breaks apart germ DNA, preventing pathogens from functioning or reproducing. UV light won’t harm touchscreens, cameras or IR sensors, and is optimal for hard, non-porous surfaces. Unlike chemical wipes, UV-C light does not dry out or degrade materials, according to CleanSlate UV.
The user deposits the mobile device into the machine, closes the lid and waits 20 seconds for the device to be cleaned. Once completed, the lid opens automatically and the mobile device can be removed. The device can sanitize multiple items at once, and includes RFID-enabled tracking and compliance auditing.
A key component
One of the device’s critical components is a sliding chamber made of Drylin W parts manufactured by motion-plastics company Igus (Cologne, Germany). The sliding chamber is the open front end of the product, into which the user deposits the mobile devices. Once the lid is closed, the sliding chamber transports the device into the UV chamber.
The Igus Drylin W guides are highly flexible and designed to slide rather than roll. By contrast, rolling mechanisms use moving parts, which may decrease a product’s reliability and generate more noise. Igus’s sliding mechanism eliminates those issues and the number of parts required is reduced significantly, lowering costs.
“Since the UV light is dangerous to human skin and eye, we had to design a moving chamber that transports the device into the UV chamber when the sanitization was initiated by the user,’’ said Kevin Wright, Canadian sales manager for Igus, which has North American operations in Providence, R.I. “It was important to have a bearing system that was extremely quiet, especially in the evening shifts where any noise from the devices can be disturbing to the patients and staff.”
Drylin W guides are typically used in agricultural machinery, vehicle construction, packaging, furniture and robotics. Their resistance to resistant to dirt and dust contribute to the CleanSlate UV device’s reliability, according to the company.
“Reliability was utmost, as any downtime due to CleanSlate device breakdown would result in the ineffective sanitization of mobile devices using chemical wipes, which could damage or degrade the electronic devices used in hospitals,’’ said Manju Anand, chief technology officer for CleanSlate UV.
More than 40 hospital systems, biotech companies and food processors in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are using CleanSlate UV Sanitizers, according to the company. Montfort Hospital in Ottawa recently installed one near its coffee shop and another in a patient care unit.
“UV light is being incorporated in different types of technologies for the purpose of disinfection,’’ said Josée Shymanski, manager of infection control at Montfort Hospital. “Using UV light to target mobile device disinfection filled a need that existed and which will continue to exist as we move more and more toward electronic technologies in health care.”
Many patients, staff and visitors clean their cell phones and other mobile devices using the new technology in a main hospital lobby or while waiting to order coffee, according to Heather Candon, manager of infection prevention and control at Mackenzie Health, another hospital system in Ontario. “This is a good habit to practice all year-round, but even more so during flu seasons,” Candon said.