Here's how to fight superbugs: sterilize a whole hospital room at once

When they say clean your room, they really mean it


An AsepticSure room sterilization unit (Medizone)

Take an operating room that’s crawling with dangerous bacteria like C. difficile, close the door and seal the edges with tape. Then pump the room full of an antiseptic vapour that combines ozone gas with hydrogen peroxide. In 90 minutes the floors, walls and all of the equipment in the room are as clean as a surgeon’s scalpel.

That’s what AsepticSure, a Canadian invention that’s being marketed by a California company called Medizone, promises to do.

Hospital-acquired infections have become a massive—and costly—problem says Dr. Michael Shannon, the Kingston, Ont.–based president of Medizone International. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that each year more than 200,000 Canadians contract an infection while receiving health care. More than 8,000 of them die.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”—like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—makes the situation even more dire. “We’re looking at a silent epidemic,” says Shannon. “There’s a medical and a public-health imperative to do something about it.”

Shannon and his co-inventor Dr. Dick Zoutman say their sterilization system gets into every nook and cranny, providing a more thorough disinfection than other methods. While the price tag—around $120,000 per unit—may seem steep, Shannon argues the device pays for itself once it has prevented seven infections. If he’s right, the cost savings could be enormous.