Antimicrobial Copper

Practical Aspects of Reducing Bioburden With Copper: Selly Oak Hospital Case Study

Presentation delivered at IHEEM Healthcare Estates Conference 2009, Harrogate.

Copper and copper alloys have been shown to kill clinical strains of typical hospital pathogens in the laboratory, the groundbreaking work being done in the UK.  After extensive testing, including wear and reinfection tests, nearly 300 copper alloys are now registered by the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA as having antimicrobial properties.  These alloys have approved public health claims.  Clinical trials are ongoing in Chile, Germany, Japan, UK and the USA.

The world's first clinical trial to publish results was undertaken at UHB Selly Oak by a multidisciplinary team under the leadership of Professor Tom Elliott.  On a busy medical ward, a large number of touch surfaces on fittings and equipment were identified as high risk ie 'contamination hot spots'.  These were replaced with copper containing components. Results of environmental sampling show 90-100% reduced contamination on the copper versus the control surfaces. Whilst the clinical results have been published, the practical aspects of the installation have not been presented until now.

This presentation will review the decisions required to select high-risk surfaces for substitution, explain how copper can be incorporated in these items, and discuss availability and sourcing of products.  Drawing on the experience of the UHB Estates team, practical aspects of installation and maintenance will be covered as well as expected lifetime costs.


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