Research  Proves Antimicrobial Copper Reduces the Risk of Infections by More Than 40%

July 01, 2011

New York, NY—Early results from a comprehensive, multi-site clinical trial in the US demonstrate that the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms resulted in a 40.4% reduction in the risk of acquiring a hospital infection.  Initial study results were presented at the World Health Organization’s 1st International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC) in Geneva, Switzerland on July 1st, 2011.

The study, funded by the US Department of Defense, was designed to determine the efficacy of antimicrobial copper in reducing the level of pathogens in hospital rooms, and whether such a reduction would translate into a lower rate of infection.  Researchers at the three hospitals involved in the trial – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, both in Charleston, South Carolina – replaced commonly-touched items, such as bed rails, overbed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles, with antimicrobial copper versions.

Rooms with copper surfaces demonstrated a 97% reduction in surface pathogens, the same level achieved by “terminal” cleaning: the regimen conducted after each patient vacates a room.

Dr Michael Schmidt, Professor and Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology at MUSC, who presented the results at ICPIC, said, “Bacteria present on ICU room surfaces are probably responsible for up to 80% of patient infections, demonstrating how critical it is to keep hospitals clean.  The copper objects used in the clinical trial supplemented cleaning protocols, lowered microbial levels, and resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the number of infections contracted by patients treated in those rooms.”  

Hospital patients have a 1:20 chance of developing an infection, and those who do have a 1:20 chance of dying as a result. The CDC estimates that in the U.S., hospital acquired infections kill 100,000 people and cost $45 billion annually.

Independent laboratory testing has demonstrated that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper products kill greater than 99.9% of microorganisms.  These include deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA, VRE, and other bacteria which can cause fatal infections, such as Clostridium difficile.  Antimicrobial copper has also been proven effective against viruses such as Influenza A and pathogenic fungi.  Antimicrobial copper is the only family of solid materials that has been registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as capable of killing disease-causing organisms.

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Geralyn Lederman, PhD
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