He looks a lot like R2D2, but his name is Frost and he's on a mission to kill superbugs at Stanford Hospital. The robot made by Xenex, emits pulsating ultra violet light that stops the DNA of microorganisms from replicating, effectively killing them. The special light can wipe out potentially deadly microorganisms such as C-DIFF and MRSA that often lurk in hospitals.
Meet “Frost,” Stanford's Infection-Fighting Robot
"Our patients are very, very sick and are extremely susceptible to a multitude of organisms so we are doing everything we can to protect them " said Sasha Madison, infection prevention manager at Stanford Hospital. Currently the hospital's biggest concern is C-DIFF, a drug resistant superbug.
"These bacteria mutate and become more resistant so we have to use technology to get those bacteria,” said Madison.
The robots cost $82,000 and Stanford now has two, making it the first hospital in Northern California to use the disinfecting technology. The hospital has used the robots just one week in certain patient isolation rooms. The robots are also used at night to help disinfect more than 20 operating rooms.
Stanford's tests indicate the robots are completing their mission. "We measured the bacterial loads in the operating rooms after the robot had been in more than 10 minutes and we could not find any bacteria, so they have proven to be very effective in the ORs,” said Brad Igler, housekeeping department director at Stanford Hospital.
While the robot can kill more than 20 microorganisms including MRSA, it is not used alone. Hospital staff first use bleach and germicidal solutions to scour a patient room before the robot comes in. The hope is old-fashioned scrubbing, combined with high-tech zapping, will make the difference in stopping the spread of infection.