Why are we ignoring UVC in disinfection of patient care devices and personal items?

Helene Paxton

MS, MT(ASCP), PhD, CIC STEM Faculty member at Rowan College South Jersey
After attending a recent Infection Prevention meeting and speaking with several attendees, it was clear to me that healthcare workers are not hearing the message regarding newer disinfection modalities for patient care equipment and personal equipment used around patients. These include “EHR” required cell phones, communicators and tablets, as well non-critical patient care tools like stethoscopes, glucometers, monitors etc. There are 100s of handheld electronics and non-critical patient tools and devices that require repetitive disinfection throughout a shift. It makes no sense to disinfect the patient room, wash your hands and then not disinfect the healthcare items touched and shared most frequently.

Healthcare facilities are married to their disinfectant wipes despite the lack of compliance with the wet-time and proper use. The wipes are promoted to have universal use and are engrained in our medical facilities and our homes. In spite of numerous pitfalls associated with their use such as equipment failure, surface compatibility and wet times, movement away from their use is resisted. Little attention is paid to their health risks, costs, and lack of efficacy.

UVC devices have the advantage of speed [30 Seconds] and a Log 6₁₀ deactivation of major pathogens. They have no supply cost, leave no residue and do not require contact time or surface compatibility knowledge by the Users. The average chemical wipe is $.04 – $.08 cents per wipe and the per cycle cost for UVC is < $.011. No supply waste means no environmental waste costs. The supply cost advantages and operational savings to UVC are great.

Healthcare facilities should make use of their advantages over disinfecting wipes.

It’s obvious that infections are not being reduced using wipes alone and continue to increase in our healthcare facilities; so why not take the time to evaluate UVC disinfection cabinets and their performance for personal and patient care equipment and use them to add to our arsenal for infection prevention?


Dr. Paxton has 45 plus years’ experience in medical devices and Infectious disease consulting. The Staff Epidemiologist at TMG Health Technologies. A member of SHEA and ASM. Dr. Paxton specializes in studies for 510k submission and regulatory submissions, FDA liaison, design control and GMP and FDA inspection readiness. 30 years as an infection preventionist for acute care and LTAC’s, has extensive knowledge in disinfection and is an expert in Biosafety.