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Understanding ultraviolet light surface decontamination in hospital rooms: A primer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2019

John M. Boyce*
J.M. Boyce Consulting, Middletown, Connecticut
Curtis J. Donskey
Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio
Author for correspondence: John M. Boyce, Email:


Ongoing challenges in maintaining optimum manual cleaning and disinfection of hospital rooms have created increased interest in “no-touch” decontamination technologies including the use of ultraviolet light (UV). Trials have shown that some UV devices can decrease surface contamination and reduce healthcare-associated infections. Despite substantial marketing of these devices for use in healthcare settings, few data are available regarding the doses of UV-C necessary to yield desired reductions in healthcare pathogens and the ability of mobile devices to deliver adequate doses to various surfaces in patient rooms. This review summarizes the physical aspects of UV that affect the doses delivered to surfaces, the UV-C doses needed to yield 3 log10 reductions of several important healthcare-associated pathogens, the doses of UV-C that can be achieved in various locations in patient rooms using mobile UV-C devices, and methods for measuring UV doses delivered to surfaces.

© 2019 by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All rights reserved. 

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