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Evidence to Improve Care

Portable Ultraviolet Light Surface-Disinfecting Devices for Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Final Recommendation

  • Health Quality Ontario, under the guidance of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee, recommends against publicly funding portable ultraviolet light surface-disinfection devices for prevention of hospital-acquired infections

Read the Full Recommendation Report.

Hospital-acquired infections are ones that patients develop during their stay in the hospital that were neither present nor developing when they were admitted. In Canada, about 10 percent of adults with short-term hospitalization acquire hospital-acquired infections.

The standard method for reducing and preventing these infections is by decontaminating patient rooms through manual cleaning and disinfection. Several no-touch ultraviolet light systems have been proposed to supplement current hospital cleaning and disinfecting practices.

Health Quality Ontario studied the effectiveness and financial impact of portable ultraviolet light surface-disinfecting devices for reducing hospital-acquired infections.

To determine the financial impact of portable ultraviolet light surface-disinfecting devices, we estimated that the typical cost for a hospital that purchased two devices would be $586,023 to $634,255 over 5 years, depending on the devices purchased. This includes the estimated cost of the devices, warranty, maintenance, and staff time required to operate the devices.

Due to the low quality of evidence related to the effectiveness of portable ultraviolet light disinfection, we cannot be certain these devices are better than the standard cleaning and disinfection procedures currently used to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Portable Ultraviolet Light Surface-Disinfecting Devices for Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections: A Health Technology Assessment
February 2018

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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care endorses this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry recognizes that UV light is a proven and effective method of surface disinfection and provides funding for permanent UV light disinfection fixtures mounted on hospital walls. The Ministry agrees with Health Quality Ontario’s recommendation regarding portable UV light devices and encourages hospitals to consider Health Quality Ontario’s evidence-informed advice on this topic.

Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


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