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Copper surfaces could halt HAIs

April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — Placement of copper objects in intensive care unit (ICU) hospital rooms reduced the number of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) in patients by more than half, according to a press release.

In the U.S., HAIs result in 100,000 deaths annually, often contaminating items within hospital rooms, allowing bacteria to transfer from patient to patient, and adding an estimated $45 billion to healthcare costs, the release stated.

According to the release, researchers tested the capability of copper surfaces to reduce environmental contamination of these germs and thereby decrease HAIs in patients; copper surfaces have an inherent ability to continuously kill environmental microbes on these surfaces.

The study was performed from July 12, 2010, to June 14, 2011, at three medical centers including the Medical University of South Carolina, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the release noted.

The proportion of patients who developed HAI and/or colonization with MRSA or VRE was significantly lower among patients in rooms with copper surfaces (7.1 percent) compared with patients in traditional rooms (12.3 percent); the proportion of patients developing HAI was significantly lower among those assigned to copper rooms (3.4 percent) compared with those in traditional rooms (8.1 percent), the release added.

Click here to read the release in its entirety.