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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Mayo Clinic in Rochester now using a full team of robots to fight bacteria

Mayo Clinic in Rochester now using a full team of robots to fight bacteria

The future of fighting bacteria has arrived at Rochester's Mayo Clinic.

This month, the clinic began deploying a team of robots to prevent the spread of Clostridium difficile (C-diff) bacteria, one of the most common infections patients can get while receiving care at a medical facility.

C-diff can can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Each year, more than a half million people get sick from the bacteria. Older adults are most susceptible to infection.

 
 

The problem for health care facilities is that C-diff's spores are resistant to routine hospital disinfectants and require extra cleaning measures.

But now, labor-intensive sanitation can be supplemented by the robots, which emit pulses of ultraviolet light that kill C-diff spores on exposed surfaces.

According to the clinic, the machines go through three cycles in different parts of a patient's room, adding 25 minutes to the cleaning process.

“It’s worth it, because the average increased length of stays for a person with C-diff is three days,” said Dr. Sampathkumar, chair of Mayo Clinic's infection control committee in Rochester, according to a news release. “If we prevent C-diff infections, we gain that time back.”

 
 

Mayo first began using the robots in October 2014 as part of a pilot program. During that time, researchers saw a 30 percent decrease in C-diff infections in the rooms that used the devices compared to those that did not.

The clinic purchased 10 additional robots last fall and began training employees to start using them for the start of 2016.

You can see a video of the robots in action by clicking here.


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(Cover photo courtesy Mayo Clinic)

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