Copper Reduces Contamination Between Cleans
Results presented at the recent 7th
International Conference of the Hospital Infection Society in
Liverpool confirm the role of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces
as a supplement to routine cleaning to improve environmental
hygiene in clinical environments.
12th November 2010
In an extension of an earlier study, a wide selection of
standard touch surfaces were replaced with antimicrobial copper
equivalents on a general medical ward at Selly Oak hospital.
The frequently-touched surfaces identified for substitution with
copper-containing surfaces included door furniture, grab rails,
trolleys, over-bed tables and taps. During the six-month
study, copper and equivalent control items were sampled once a week
for 24 weeks, at least 90 minutes after the morning's routine
cleaning and ahead of the 5 p.m. cleaning. The levels of
microbiological contamination were then compared between the copper
and standard surfaces.
The results showed that the highest contamination was found in
the patient bathrooms, particularly on the chrome-plated toilet
flush lever handles and tap handles, and on the plastic light pulls
and toilet seats.
Copper-containing items, including door push plates, door pull
handles, tap handles, toilet flush lever handles, patient over-bed
tables, dressing trolleys, socket switches and light pull cord
toggles were found to have significantly fewer microorganisms on
their surfaces than the controls, and vancomycin-resistant
enterococci, meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus and
coliform bacteria were recovered less frequently from these.
Contaminated surfaces act as reservoirs of clinical
microorganisms, which can be transferred to the hands of staff,
patients and visitors. This study shows that, despite routine
cleaning, surfaces in the clinical environment may become
contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. Microbial load,
including the presence of microorganisms responsible for
healthcare-associated infections, was shown to be significantly
reduced between cleans on the majority of the copper surfaces,
compared to standard surfaces.
The researchers, led by Professor Tom Elliott, Consultant
Microbiologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation
Trust, concluded that the use of copper, in combination with
optimal infection prevention strategies, may further reduce the
risk of patients acquiring infections in hospitals and other
For further information or high res images contact:
Copper Development Association
5 Grovelands Business Centre
Hemel Hempstead HP2 7TE
Tel: 01442 275705, Fax: 01442 275716
Websites: www.copperinfo.co.uk and www.antimicrobialcopper.com
1. The findings were presented in a poster
session at the 7th International Conference of the
Hospital Infection Society, October 2010.
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