A recent Harris Interactive survey on the attitudes of the American public toward healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) revealed that almost one-quarter (24 percent) of U.S. adults or someone they know have had an infection as a result of a stay in a hospital; and that 37 percent are most concerned about the spread of germs and bacteria in hospitals, as compared to other public places.
With more than 2,000 hospitals being financially penalized by the federal government recently for excessive patient readmissions, organizations now need to find a way to reduce HAI rates. Standard infection control procedures, while entirely necessary, have proven to be an insufficient answer to the problem. Innovative solutions are needed: one can be found right now in antimicrobial copper.
Preliminary results of a Department of Defense (DoD) study have shown that Antimicrobial Copper reduces HAIs by 41 percent through continuously killing bacteria on touch surfaces, such as IV poles and bedrails. This same study demonstrated that copper reduces the bacteria in intensive care units (ICUs) by 83 percent. After rigorous testing, copper alloys have been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to kill greater than 99.9 percent of Staph and E. coli, as well as the superbugs MRSA, VRE and others. However, only 16 percent of U.S. adults polled in the Harris survey are aware of the proven power of antimicrobial copper to kill bacteria.
Antimicrobial copper healthcare equipment offers patients an added line of protection when they visit a healthcare facility for treatment, says Dr. Archelle Georgiou, a physician who has practiced as a clinician and corporate managed care executive for nearly two decades. Utilizing antimicrobial copper touch surfaces in simple ways such as on handrails, overbed trays and IV poles could go a long way to reducing the huge burden HAIs place on the healthcare system and the patients who need treatment.
Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper surfaces kill greater than 99.9 percent of the following bacteria within two hours of exposure: MRSA, Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. Antimicrobial copper surfaces are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices and have been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but do not necessarily prevent cross contamination; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices.
In the U.S., after many years of research, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered more than 350 copper based alloys, such as brass and bronze, as public health antimicrobial products. Antimicrobial copper is the only class of solid touch surfaces registered by the EPA to continuously kill bacteria that cause infections and pose a risk to human health.
Source: Copper Development Association