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Pioneering UV-C Technology: A New Approach to Infection Control and Preventing CLABSIs

Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) present a major concern in the realm of patient safety, with about 250,000 incidences reported per year in the United States alone. These episodes often evoke high morbidity and mortality rates, making them a critical point of focus in healthcare practices. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responded to this challenge with a bold initiative to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by setting a goal in October 2020 to decrease CLABSIs by 50% come 2023. To support this cause, a recent exploration titled ‘Disinfection of Needleless Connectors for Catheters in One Second Using a Hand-Held UV Device’ was published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The central charters of this study illuminate the impact of improper sterilization of needleless connectors (NCs) of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) or central venous catheters (CVCs), which can result in CLABSIs. Even though the traditional disinfection of NCs involved 70% isopropanol, chlorhexidine, or both, they only addressed the cleaning of external surfaces. This necessitated an active scrubbing for 5 to 15 seconds. Similarly, the invention of caps saturated with disinfectants only worked on external surfaces and didn’t address the issue of contamination of the NC intraluminal surface.

Rising to this challenge, PuraCath Medical Inc. has pioneered the Firefly UV Disinfection System, a groundbreaking approach for NC disinfection. This innovative device employs UV-transmissive cyclic-olefin copolymers for disinfecting NC’s internal surfaces, a crucial area typically overlooked by conventional disinfection processes. Firefly is a portable UV LED device that operates on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It was demonstrated in a benchtop study that Firefly achieved over a 4-log reduction in CFUs on the NC’s outer and inner surfaces using UV-C disinfection. This reduction was achieved in just 1 second of UV irradiation, significantly faster than a 15-second alcohol scrub.

Since 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ceased reimbursement for CLABSI treatments, barring the suspension period between 2020 and 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CLABSIs in US acute care hospitals increased by a concerning 7% between 2020 and 2021, with 30,100 reported cases specifically from ICUs and wards of US acute care facilities in 2020. This data underlines the financial incentive for healthcare institutions to reduce CLABSIs.

The Firefly system stands out from traditional methods through its utilization of UV-C light to sterilize both the outside and inside surfaces of NCs. As such, the Firefly system helps to obliterate microbial contamination and attenuate the risk of CLABSIs. The investigation involved testing 22 samples with 5 germane microbes. They confirmed 90% confidence and reliability with only 1 second of UV light exposure by correlating pre- and post-UV-C exposure CFU counts.

The Firefly UV Disinfection System opens up a new horizon in NC disinfection practices by offering a safer and more efficient disinfection solution in the fight against CLABSIs, an indispensable tool for healthcare facilities all over the globe.


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