Effectiveness of Targeted Enhanced Terminal Room Disinfection on Hospital-Wide Acquisition and Infection With Multidrug-Resistant Organisms and Clostridium Difficile: A Secondary Analysis of a Multicentre Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial With Crossover Design (BETR Disinfection)

Lancet Infect Dis. 2018 Aug;18(8):845-853. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30278-0. Epub 2018 Jun 4.


Background: The hospital environment is a source of pathogen transmission. The effect of enhanced disinfection strategies on the hospital-wide incidence of infection has not been investigated in a multicentre, randomised controlled trial. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of four disinfection strategies on hospital-wide incidence of multidrug-resistant organisms and Clostridium difficile in the Benefits of Enhanced Terminal Room (BETR) Disinfection study.

Methods: We did a prespecified secondary analysis of the results from the BETR Disinfection study, a pragmatic, multicentre, crossover cluster-randomised trial that assessed four different strategies for terminal room disinfection in nine hospitals in the southeastern USA. Rooms from which a patient with a specific infection or colonisation (due to the target organisms C difficile, meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), or multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter spp) was discharged were terminally disinfected with one of four strategies: standard disinfection (quaternary ammonium disinfectant, except for C difficile, for which 10% hypochlorite [bleach] was used; reference); standard disinfection and disinfecting ultraviolet light (UV-C), except for C difficile, for which bleach and UV-C was used (UV strategy); 10% hypochlorite (bleach strategy); and bleach and UV-C (bleach and UV strategy). We randomly assigned the sequence of strategies for each hospital (1:1:1:1), and each strategy was used for 7 months, including a 1-month wash-in period and 6 months of data collection. The prespecified secondary outcomes were hospital-wide, hospital-acquired incidence of all target organisms (calculated as number of patients with hospital-acquired infection with a target organism per 10 000 patient days), and hospital-wide, hospital-acquired incidence of each target organism separately. BETR Disinfection is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01579370.

Findings: Between April, 2012, and July, 2014, there were 271 740 unique patients with 375 918 admissions. 314 610 admissions met all inclusion criteria (n=73 071 in the reference study period, n=81 621 in the UV study period, n=78 760 in the bleach study period, and n=81 158 in the bleach and UV study period). 2681 incidenct cases of hospital-acquired infection or colonisation occurred during the study. There was no significant difference in the hospital-wide risk of target organism acquisition between standard disinfection and the three enhanced terminal disinfection strategies for all target multidrug-resistant organisms (UV study period relative risk [RR] 0·89, 95% CI 0·79-1·00; p=0·052; bleach study period 0·92, 0·79-1·08; p=0·32; bleach and UV study period 0·99, 0·89-1·11; p=0·89). The decrease in risk in the UV study period was driven by decreases in risk of acquisition of C difficile (RR 0·89, 95% CI 0·80-0·99; p=0·031) and VRE (0·56, 0·31-0·996; p=0·048).

Interpretation: Enhanced terminal room disinfection with UV in a targeted subset of high-risk rooms led to a decrease in hospital-wide incidence of C difficile and VRE. Enhanced disinfection overcomes limitations of standard disinfection strategies and is a potential strategy to reduce the risk of acquisition of multidrug-resistant organisms and C difficile.

Funding: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control*
  • Clostridium difficile*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Disinfectants / administration & dosage
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Hospitals / standards*
  • Humans
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Sodium Hypochlorite / administration & dosage
  • Southeastern United States
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Disinfectants
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Sodium Hypochlorite

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01579370