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Study: Copper surfaces can control resistant infections

April 12, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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Copper surfaces in patient rooms can reduce heathcare-acquired infections (HAIs) by 58 percent even without human intervention, according to a study published in the May issue of SHEA Journal of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Copper and non-copper surfaces were tested in intensive care units at three medical centers. The study rooms saw a total of 650 patients during the one-year study period. In the rooms containing copper-based surfaces, HAIs were reduced by at least half at all three medical centers.

Even the most resistant strains of HAIs, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) or Clostridium difficile, saw significant reduction in the copper-surface rooms. The study authors attribute the effects to copper’s natural ability to slow the growth of microorganisms, noting that copper surfaces can reduce pathogens even without human intervention.

“Copper alloy surfaces offer an alternative way to reduce the increasing number of HAIs, without having to worry about changing healthcare worker behavior,” said Michael Schmidt, MD, one of the study authors.  “Because the antimicrobial effect is a continuous property of copper, the regrowth of deadly bacteria is significantly less on these surfaces, making a safer environment for hospital patients.”

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