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​UV Robots Zap Germs and Disinfect Rooms at UPMC Hospitals

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Allison Hydzik
Director, Science and Research

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PITTSBURGH, July 9, 2014UPMC today unveiled the latest in its growing cadre of disinfecting robots that use ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitize hospital operating and patient rooms.
The newest UV robot, nicknamed “Violet,” was recently given to UPMC Passavant by the Passavant Hospital Foundation. Since February, the health system has used UV robots in a pilot project at three of its other hospitals – UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Shadyside – and is considering them for additional hospitals.
“Hospital-associated infections are an issue nationwide and preventing them at UPMC hospitals is a top priority. These robots, coupled with our many other infection prevention measures, are an important tool in ensuring patient safety. We are grateful to the Passavant Hospital Foundation for helping us to expand their use,” said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer of UPMC.
As part of the foundation’s mission to support superior quality, front-line staff is invited annually to submit project proposals that will maximize patient care delivery.
“We funded Violet through this grant process because we believe it can provide significant benefits to patients and staff,” said Fay Morgan, president of Passavant Hospital Foundation.
The robots emit ultraviolet light that penetrates and damages bacteria, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), all of which are commonly referred to as “superbugs” because they are highly resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments.
After a hospital environmental services employee thoroughly cleans a room with germicidal disinfectant, a trained technician wheels the robot into the room, opens all the interior doors and drawers to expose surfaces where germs could lurk, turns on and programs the robot, and leaves the room.
The machine then emits the UV light to penetrate through the cell walls of bacteria and viruses and destroy their DNA, rendering them unable to reproduce. The process can take as little as 15 minutes or more than an hour, depending on the size of the room.
To see a video of UPMC Passavant’s UV robot in action, visit
“The robot enhances the cleaning done by our employees. The robot does not scrub surfaces or remove dirt; it kills microscopic germs that can be missed in even the most thorough cleaning,” said Joseph Romano, M.D., UPMC infectious disease physician.
Previous peer-reviewed studies at hospitals outside the UPMC system have shown that UV robots reduce bacterial contamination in hospital rooms by as much as 95 percent and cut hospital-associated infections by more than half. UPMC is evaluating the impact of the UV robots at its own hospitals  and will then determine if wider use of this technology is justified.

Watch a video of UPMC Passavant's UV robot in action.