Robotic Vaporizers Reduce Hospital Bacterial Infections


Paired, robotlike devices that disperse a bleaching disinfectant into the air of hospital rooms, then detoxify the disinfecting chemical, were found to be highly effective at killing and preventing the spread of “superbug” bacteria, according to research from Johns Hopkins Hospital published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.5 Hydrogen peroxide vaporizers were first deployed in Singapore hospitals in 2002 during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Almost half of a study group of 6,350 patients in and out of 180 hospital rooms over a two-and-a-half-year period received the enhanced cleaning technology, while the others received routine cleaning only. Manufactured by Bioquell Inc. of Horsham, Pa. (www.bioquell.com), each device is about the size of a washing machine. They were deployed in hospital rooms with sealed vents, dispersing a thin film of hydrogen peroxide across all exposed surfaces, equipment, floors, and walls. This approach reduced by 64% the number of patients who later became contaminated with any of the most common drug-resistant organisms, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci, Clostridium difficile, and Acinetobacter baumannii.

Spreading the bleaching vapor this way “represents a major technological advance in preventing the spread of dangerous bacteria inside hospital rooms,” says senior investigator Trish Perl, MD, MSc, professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins. The hospital announced in December that it would begin decontaminating isolation rooms with these devices as standard practice starting in January.


  1. Passaretti CL, Otter JA, Reich NG, et al. An evaluation of environmental decontamination with hydrogen peroxide vapor for reducing the risk of patient acquisition of multidrug-resistant organisms. Clin Infect Dis. 2013;56(1):27-35.

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