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CDA Promotes Antimicrobial Touch Surfaces at Healthcare Design Conference

November 18th, 2011

By Wayne Seale, CDA Project Manager and Architectural Application Specialist

More than 3,600 health care engineering, design and architectural professionals attended the 2011 HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference Nov. 13-16 in Nashville. Wayne Seale and Larry Peters, project managers and architectural applications specialists for the Copper Development Association (CDA,) gave attendees the latest information about the antimicrobial properties of copper touch surfaces.

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a big problem. In the U.S., hospital patients have a 1:20 chance of developing an infection, and of those who do become ill, 1:20 have chance of dying. The CDC estimates that in the U.S., HAIs kill 100,000 people and cost $45 billion annually.

That’s one of the reasons we’re excited to share the latest information about antimicrobial copper touch surfaces at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference in Nashville this week. We’re talking primarily to health care building design experts, architects and hospital owners about the value of copper touch surfaces in reducing bacteria on hardware in medical settings.

Our goal is to make people aware that we can use copper in a different way – studies have shown copper can kill bacteria on touch surfaces. We’ve had a lot of interest at our booth because more people know about antimicrobial copper touch surfaces and are talking with us about what we’re doing. There also are some representatives of companies that are registered to sell antimicrobial products here at the conference. We’re confident that more copper touch surfaces will be used in medical settings in the future as new hospitals are built and existing facilities are retrofitted.

Studies have shown that antimicrobial copper surfaces do work in preventing the spread of infection. Results recently released 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 these rooms by 97 percent and resulted in a 41 percent reduction in the hospital acquired infection rate. According to researchers, this study is one of the first to demonstrate the value of a passive infection control intervention, one that does not rely on staff or patients remembering to take action. The results of this study were presented last month at the annual conference of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Boston.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and took place at 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, where traditional objects, such as bed rails, overbed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles, were replaced with antimicrobial copper.

For more information on the science of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces, go to our website. You can also email me, wseale@cda.copper.org.

*Independent laboratory testing has demonstrated that when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper products kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within two hours of exposure:  MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7.  For a complete listing of approved EPA public health claims for antimicrobial copper, please visit www.antimicrobialcopper.com. Study results are to be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review and approval.  Because many factors contribute to the risk of infection, individual results may vary.

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