Meet TRU-D, the germ-killing robot

When she joined our infection control team, we knew immediately that bringing her in was the right call. Staff and patients loved her. It seemed like she never left the hospital and could work 24/7. We knew she was great, but we didn’t realize what a valuable employee she was until the United States had its first confirmed Ebola case.

This employee’s name is TRU-D, or Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfection. TRU-D is a robot that produces natural ultraviolet (UV) light to target common germs found in hospitals. The UV light modifies the DNA structure of a cell so that it cannot reproduce, and a germ that cannot reproduce cannot harm patients or employees.

“There is increased evidence in scientific literature that UV light disinfection technology can sterilize entire rooms and render common hospital pathogens harmless,” explained Mario Soares, director of infection prevention and control at Houston Methodist Hospital.

 

Currently, TRU-D, often mistaken for R2D2 of Star Wars, sanitizes patient and operating rooms at Houston Methodist after they have been cleaned with the traditional cleaning processes. She rolls in to the room, and we close the doors behind her.

While the light TRU-D produces is natural, you don’t want to be in the room while she’s working; she likes to work independently. Using a handheld remote, TRU-D’s boss activates her from outside the room, and her sensors analyze the shape, size and contents of the room. She calculates the amount of time needed to sanitize the room (usually 20-25 minutes) and bathes the room in UV light before shutting off automatically when the germs are dead.

TRU-D is working around the world to fight hospital pathogens. In addition to Ebola, TRU-D’s light can also kill influenza, norovirus, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

TRU-D can sanitize an entire hospital room in less than 25 minutes Click To Tweet

“While TRU-D is already a core member of our cleaning and disinfecting team at Houston Methodist, we are adding more TRU-D robots to our arsenal,” Mario said. “We want to use TRU-D to disinfect more rooms to increase the level of protection for our patients.”

The next time you’re at Houston Methodist, keep an eye out for TRU-D. She might be rolling to a room near you.