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Disinfection robots can automatically disinfect the air and surfaces of hospital environments, significantly reducing the duration and resources spent on disinfection while lowering the risks of occupational exposure for healthcare personnel. These mobile robots can navigate independently or with the assistance of an operator and are intended to prevent the spread of various disease-causing microorganisms and viruses.
The prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) is an integral part of improving healthcare quality. The traditional cleaning and disinfection process in a hospital involves manual wiping, chemical spraying, and ultraviolet irradiation; however, it is difficult to assess the quality of manual cleaning. Some of the chemical disinfectants may also cause severe irritation and occupational injuries.
Furthermore, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is highly contagious. Hence, it poses a significant challenge for the traditional disinfection method since it places the cleaning staff at risk of infection. Therefore, the use of intelligent robots to perform environmental disinfection at the source of infection has become increasingly prominent. These robots reduce labor costs and increase disinfection efficiency while reducing occupational exposure.
Disinfection robots are machines developed to perform surface disinfection by applying ultraviolet (UV) radiations, disinfectant sprays, or a combination of both. Ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection robots emit UV-C light onto pre-defined infectious hotspots, thus disinfecting and eliminating bacteria and viruses on all exposed surfaces. While the disinfectant spraying robots are equipped with a nozzle that sprays a chemical disinfectant. Various disinfectants can be used, such as peroxyacetic acid, chlorine dioxide, and hydrogen peroxide. Some of these robots have self-navigation capabilities, while others can be operated remotely by an operator. Disinfection robots are widely used in healthcare facilities, public transportation, and other public areas.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), also known as nosocomial infections, are diseases acquired in hospitals or healthcare facilities that manifest 48 hours or more after admission or within 30 days of discharge. Pathogens that cause HAIs include viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Bloodstream infections (BSIs), pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most prevalent infections. These infections not only endanger the patient's health and life but also lengthen hospital stays, adding to the economic burden.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.7 million patients contract hospital-acquired infections every year. As per WHO statistics, out of every 100 hospitalized patients globally, seven in developed and ten in developing countries are at risk of acquiring at least one healthcare-associated infection.
The trend of healthcare-associated infections is also the same in Europe. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, approximately 3.1–4.6 million people in acute care hospitals in EU countries are at risk of acquiring healthcare-associated infections each year. Similarly, according to an article published in the StatPearls journal in 2021, healthcare-associated infections affect about 3.2% of all hospitalized patients in the U.S. and about 6.5% in Europe.
In addition, the prevalence of HAIs worldwide is estimated to be much higher. The exact burden of HAIs globally cannot be ascertained due to the lack of surveillance systems for HAIs. Therefore, to reduce the prevalence of HAIs and improve patient care, a thorough terminal cleaning of patient rooms in healthcare facilities is required. Hence, the rising necessity to reduce HAIs has resulted in the growing demand for disinfection robots for disinfecting healthcare facilities efficiently.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an influx of patients and a shortage of medical staff across healthcare sectors worldwide. In order to curb the spread of infection in essential areas such as healthcare facilities and other public areas and reduce the exposure of healthcare personnel to infected patients, disinfection robots were deployed to clean and sterilize (disinfect) the surfaces in desired areas
There has been an increase in sales of disinfection robots since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. These robots were not only adopted by healthcare facilities but also in public places such as government buildings, offices, hotels, airports, and universities. The COVID-19 pandemic thus acted as a catalyst for developing robotic systems used for disinfection.
The global disinfection robots market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30.1% to reach $2.79 billion by 2028, according to Meticulous Research®.
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