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California Hospital Uses Germ-Killing Robots

iStock/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) -- California's Stanford University Medical Center is using a robot to kill superbugs, in an attempt to combat infections.

The hospital added two robotic cleaning systems named Frost and Dazzle to help disinfect. The machines use high-intensity ultraviolet light bulbs, emitting pulsed light to pierce cell walls of spores, bacteria, viruses and molds.

Hand washing isn't enough to combat drug-resistant microorganisms, and infection is one of the most serious threats to hospital patients' recovery, according to medical staff. Current prevention methods include patient screening, disinfectant chemicals and glove use, but the robots provide an extra weapon in the fight against disease.

Stanford is the first hospital in the Bay Area to use the Xenex robots, which uses light to penetrate areas that may be hard to reach for human fingers.

Sasha Madison, manager of infection prevention and control, says the robots don't replace cleaning but are an additional method to cleanse the rooms after people with multi-drug resistant infections have been discharged along with contact isolation rooms and oncology units. Frost and Dazzle also work through the night, cycling through operating rooms. The process takes about 15 minutes. About 100 other U.S. hospitals use the Xenex robots.

"You can’t make a room completely sterile," Madison said. "But you try and bring the load of potential organisms down to the lowest level. The robots give us a higher level of assurance that the room is truly the cleanest it can be for our patients."

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ABC News Radio