Copper surfaces could reduce hospital acquired infections

Jul 23, 2012

Research from the Medical University of South Carolina suggests that adding copper to hospital surfaces which are commonly touched by medical personnel and patients could help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. The findings appear in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Hospital-acquired infections kill around 100,000 people annually in the United States—equivalent to a wide-body jet crash every day of the year. About five percent of patients admitted to US hospitals—nearly 5,500 daily, or two million annually—get sick from the hospital, adding $45 billion ($45,000,000,000) to the annual cost of healthcare.

In this study, the microbial burden on commonly touched surfaces in the medical intensive care units of three hospitals was determined, first to assess the risk from those surfaces, and second, to determine whether or not copper surfacing would lower that burden, and those risks. The study was divided into two phases, pre- and post-copper, and lasted for 43 months.

During the pre-copper phase, "We learned that the average microbial burden found on six commonly touched objects was 28 times higher than levels considered benign, and thus represented a risk to the patient," says Michael Schmidt, a researcher on the study. Installing copper surfaces, he says, resulted in an 83 percent reduction of that microbial burden, leading the team to conclude that copper surfaces on commonly touched objects could provide a substantially safer environment.

"Given that the average hospital acquired infection in the United States conservatively adds an additional 19 days of hospitalization and $43,000 in costs the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces warrants further study and optimization," says Schmidt, adding that this is the fourth leading cause of death, after cancer, heart disease, and strokes. He notes that " has been used by humans for millennia, first as tools and then as a tool to fight the spread of infectious agents."

Explore further: Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

More information: M.G. Schmidt, H.H. Attaway, P.A. Sharpe, J. John, Jr., K.A. Sepkowitz, A. Morgan, S.E. Fairey, S. Singh, L.L. Steed, J.R. Cantey, K.D. Freeman, H.T. Michels, and C.D. Salgado, 2012. Sustained reduction of microbial burden on common hospital surfaces through induction of copper. J. Clin. Microbiol. 50:2217-2223.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Copper reduces infection risk by more than 40 percent

Jul 01, 2011

Professor Bill Keevil, Head of the Microbiology Group and Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit at the University of Southampton, has presented research into the mechanism by which copper exerts its ...

Study proves new technology kills bacteria

Oct 20, 2011

Results from a comprehensive multi-site clinical trial demonstrated that the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms reduced the amount of bacteria in the rooms by 97 percent and resulted in a 41 ...

Will copper keep us safe from the superbugs?

Dec 01, 2009

Three papers scheduled for publication in the January issue of the Journal of Hospital Infection, published by Elsevier, suggest that copper might have a role in the fight against healthcare-associated infections.

MRSA eliminated by copper in live global broadcast

Apr 04, 2011

A live broadcast from the University of Southampton today (4 April 2011) highlighted the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper in preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, such as MRSA, in hospitals.

Antimicrobials: Silver (and copper) bullets to kill bacteria

Nov 09, 2009

Dana Filoti of the University of New Hampshire will present thin films of silver and copper she has developed that can kill bacteria and may one day help to cut down on hospital infections. The antimicrobial properties of ...

Recommended for you

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

For resetting circadian rhythms, neural cooperation is key

Apr 17, 2014

Fruit flies are pretty predictable when it comes to scheduling their days, with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk and rest times in between. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th h ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2012
What happens when it oxidises?
jamesrm
5 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2012
What happens when it oxidises?

I'd image you would clean it.

Doesn't have to be pure copper
http://en.wikiped...f_copper

MysterySecret
not rated yet Jul 27, 2012
So many releases at same time, and news organizations add to the misinformation. Here is part of the onslaught;
"Sadhana Ravishankar, Ph.D., microbiology professor at the University of Arizona and co-author on the study , funded in part by the International Copper Association and published in the May issue of Food Microbiology.. (veterinarian)"

And this release, not as bad, but so many changes in online data seems related. Some info is dangerous and needs consideration, perhaps the most dangerous is "Copper Poisoning" (please do online search) caused by acidic food in contact with copper or actually cooking with copper pans that are not coated to protect food from touching the copper. Oxidation is very rapid under such situations. This study reference is mainly on environmental surfaces, yes copper doorknobs are fine, as would toilet flushing knobs, etc. But rapid misinformation about food safety with copper needs urgent review. Copper can kill.

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...