Research backs up copper infection reduction claims

21st of July 2011
Research backs up copper infection reduction claims

Early results from a multi-site clinical trial in the US demonstrate the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms resulted in a 40.4 per cent reduction in the risk of acquiring a hospital infection.

Initial study results were presented at the World Health Organisation's first International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC) in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month.

The study, funded by the US Department of Defense, was designed to determine the efficacy of antimicrobial copper in reducing the level of pathogens in hospital rooms, and whether such a reduction would translate into a lower rate of infection. Researchers at the three hospitals involved in the trial replaced commonly-touched items, such as bed rails, overbed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles, with antimicrobial copper versions.

Rooms with copper surfaces demonstrated a 97 per cent reduction in surface pathogens, the same level achieved by 'terminal' cleaning: the regimen conducted after each patient vacates a room.

Dr Michael Schmidt, professor and vice chairman of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital (MUSC), who presented the results at ICPIC said: "Bacteria present on ICU room surfaces are probably responsible for 35-80 per cent of patient infections, demonstrating how critical it is to keep hospitals clean.

"The copper objects used in the clinical trial supplemented cleaning protocols, lowered microbial levels, and resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the number of infections contracted by patients treated in those rooms."


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