Long-term care (LTC), assisted living and rehabilitation facilities present a unique challenge to infection prevention. One reason being that residents are much more mobile than patients in a hospital, and also because there are many more common or shared spaces. Also to consider are hospital readmissions via cross infection and urinary tract infections (UTIs) as well as the current push for more transparency in the LTC industry.
Since these patients are often alternating between the facility and a hospital, the likelihood of bringing a multidrug-resistant organism (MRDO) with them is high.
A study by Sitzler, et al, Decontamination with Ultraviolet Radiation to Prevent Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection in 2 Roommates in a Long-Term Care Facility, illustrates the ease with which patients in a LTC facility can be infected and re-infected with Clostridioides difficile (CDI) or another MDRO in an environment where spaces are shared.
In the study, one patient was transferred to a LTC facility where he developed CDI and was treated. He was later assigned a roommate with a previous CDI infection; this patient then developed a recurrent CDI infection after transfer to the LTC facility. The second patient returned to acute care and then back to the LTC after being treated for CDI. Two days later, the first patient also developed a recurrent CDI infection.
UVC disinfection technology can reduce harmful germs and pathogens left behind by traditional manual cleaning; these microorganisms are more likely to be transmitted to other patients in a LTC setting. While the LTC setting can present different challenges compared to the hospital setting and because patients often come and go from their room more frequently than in the inpatient setting, there may be more opportunities to utilize a UVC device on a regular basis.
Regarding the study above, the researchers concluded that, “Routine use of UV radiation devices to decrease the environmental burden of pathogens is a feasible addition to current infection control and housekeeping measures and may ultimately help to reduce rates of CDI among patients in hospitals and LTCFs.”
In addition, reduction in bioburden in the LTC environment could contribute to reducing hospital readmissions.