Infection control of surfaces – those that are touched by patients, healthcare providers, visitors and cleaning staff – are of particular concern for CHAIR. The Coalition believes that using antimicrobial coatings on high touch surfaces will be the leading method of reducing healthcare acquired infection.
CHAIR is actively undertaking onsite trials of copper-coated surfaces in three hospitals in Canada.
These surfaces may include some or all of the following:
- Hot and cold taps
- Door push plates
- Grab rails
- Bedside trolleys
- Toilet seats
- Toilet flush levers
- Soap dispensers
- Towel dispensers
- Sink traps and wastes
- Call buttons
- Push plates
- Thumb turns
- Cubicle locks
- Light switches
- Power sockets
- Bed side table tops
- Drip pole stands
The most promising antimicrobial coating that CHAIR will be testing extensively in both laboratory and hospital settings is a copper alloy.
Copper, brass and bronze kill pathogens including MRSA that are responsible for Hospital and Community Acquired Infections!
New research on copper suggests it’s a useful tool in infection control. In 2009, Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, UK, cut bacteria by up to 95% using copper surfaces, when compared to stainless steel and plastic.
Trial results show copper surfaces even killed the drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) within an hour’s contact. This trial replaced taps, door push plates, grab handles, bedside trolleys and a toilet seat.
Similar trials are being carried out in the US and in Japan over a six-month period.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the registration of copper as an antimicrobial material, allowing manufacturers to claim that copper surfaces can kill specific bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA], vancomycin-resistant enterococci [VRE], Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 that cause infections and pose a threat to human health. Copper is the first solid surface material to receive such EPA registration as an antimicrobial.
The literature has shown that copper might also be effective against viruses, other bacteria, and fungal pathogens 28,29. More than 479 antimicrobial copper alloys are EPA-registered health antimicrobial products available to address both practical and aesthetic demands.
The natural tarnishing of copper does not have any impact of the antimicrobial efficacy. The results of tests indicated that tarnished antimicrobial copper alloys still kill greater than 99.9% of the five bacteria tested within two hours. This confirms that natural tarnishing of copper has no effect on its antimicrobial properties.
Antimicrobial copper alloys are not approved for use in food-contact or drinking water applications.
Appropriate copper and copper alloys are being identified and developed as infection control products for hospital intensive care units in Asia and Australia. An Asian Copper Consortium of Partners “CopperShield” has been formed to raise awareness of copper’s role in fighting bacteria.
(www.copperdev.com.au, www.copper.org.sg, www.copperinfo.org, www.copper.com.au, www.copper.org.cn, www.copperindia.org, www.jcda.or.jp)
What about Stainless Steel?
In trials, stainless steel, the control material, had virtually no reduction in the number of colony forming units after six hours, (the duration of the test). See the following links for more information:
- Centre Hospitalier de Rambouillet, France
- Centre Inter Générationnel Multi Accueil (CIGMA), France
- Craigavon Area Hospital, Northern Ireland
- Evangelisches Geriatriezentrum (EGZB)
- Homerton Hospital, London, UK
- Hua Dong Hospital, China
- The Kohitsuji Child Center, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
- The Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
- Mehiläinen Medical Facility, Pori, Finland
- Mejiro Daycare Center for Children, Japan
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA
- Ochiai Clinic, Japan
- The Ralph H Johnson Veterans Medical Center, USA
- Roberto del Rio Children’s Hospital, Chile
- Ronald McDonald House of Charleston, USA
- Santiago Bueras Station, Chile
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, UK
- St Francis Hospital, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland
- Trafford General Hospital, UK
- UHB Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, UK
- University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands
- West-Finland Deaconesses’ Institution Veterans’ Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Institution
- Willmott Dixon Healthcare Campus of the Future, UK
- WSSK Hospital, Wroclaw, Poland