A study in the US has shown that using Antimicrobial Copper surfaces in hospital rooms reduced the number of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) by 58 per cent compared to rooms with non-copper touch surfaces.

The US Department of Defense funded 4-year study compared rooms with and without Antimicrobial Copper objects in Intensive Care Units at three major hospitals.

The results, which have been published online in the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE) Journal, compared copper to equivalent non-copper touch surfaces during active patient care between routine cleaning and sanitizing. 

The study confirmed that Antimicrobial Copper surfaces can continuously kill 83 per centof bacteria that cause HAIs within 2 hours, including drug resistant strains that are often called ‘superbugs’.

“Because the antimicrobial effect is a continuous property of copper, the re-growth of deadly bacteria is significantly less on these surfaces, making a safer environment for hospital patients, ”said Dr Michael Schmidt, Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina and one of the authors of the study. 

HAI’s are a major and growing problem worldwide. In Australia around 9,000 people die each year as a result of picking one up in hospital.

“We’ve known for a while that copper and copper alloy surfaces can kill off bacteria and viruses within hours of contact, but we now have proof that they also cut the risk of picking up an infection and that will save lives and cut health care costs,” John Fennell from the International Copper Association said.

“Antimicrobial Copper surfaces and products are now being manufactured worldwide, and there’s been a growing number of hospital, medical clinics, aged care facilities, schools and even kindergartens that have installed them as part of their infection control strategies.”

The study can be found at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670207


Image: courtesy Antimicrobial Copper