Copper surfaces lower healthcare-acquired infection rates, study finds

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Installing antimicrobial copper surfaces in hospital intensive care unit rooms reduced the risk of acquiring hospital-related infections by more than 40%, according to new research. This finding was the result of a study testing the efficacy of antimicrobial copper in hospital rooms.

The study, which was funded by the Department of Defense, required participating study sites to replace frequently touched items including bed rails, over-bed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles with antimicrobial copper versions. One site, the Medical University of Southern California, demonstrated a 97% reduction in surface pathogens in rooms with copper surfaces.

These results may have reverberations in healthcare environments, including nursing homes, in the ongoing battle against bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

The Department of Defense study supports several previous studies that demonstrate copper's antimicrobial properties. In research presented at the World Health Organization's International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control in Geneva last week, scientist Bill Keevil, the head of the Microbiology Group and Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit at the University of Southampton, said that copper surfaces' antimicrobial properties fight the key organisms responsible for infections.

“Clinical trials around the world are now reporting on [copper's] efficacy in busy, real-world environments," Keevil said.

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