What looks like a fog machine is actually a high-tech, superbug-fighting device that hospitals are using to prevent infections like MRSA and C. Difficile.
The machine’s technology, developed in a partnership with ITT Exelis (NYSE:XLS), creates pressure waves at the surface of common liquid cleaning agents like peracetic acid or hydrogen peroxide and disperses a thick fog made up of sub-micron-sized droplets that spreads quickly throughout a room, clings to surfaces and eradicates harmful pathogens.
An average-sized hospital room can be sterilized with the device in seven to 10 minutes and reoccupied within 30 minutes, said Altapure President Carl L. Ricciardi. The initial device demonstrated a 100 percent kill rate in testing with medical-grade spores of geobacillus stearothermophilus and bacillus atrophaeus, according to the company.
“This whole, large-scale sterilization is a paradigm shift for hospitals,” Ricciardi said. “Hospitals are realizing that the old way of cleaning doesn’t work, and we’re seeing that the marketplace is starting to adopt it and embrace that they’ve got to do a better job.”
Other large-scale sterilizing methods use nozzle technology, Ricciardi said, and can leave a wet residue. Others use ultraviolet light and don’t penetrate some places. The EPA-approved fog produced by Altapure’s system contains 3 trillion to 5 trillion droplets of solution per cubic foot and does not leave residue on surfaces, he said.
Recently, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that half of C. difficile infections were present at the time a patient was admitted to a hospital, and many of them were likely acquired in a medical facility outside of the hospital. In addition to use in hospitals, these large-scale sterilization devices could also become important in doctors’ offices and nursing homes.
Altapure is located in South Bend, Indiana at Innovation Park.