April 11, 2013
1 min read

Copper surfaces reduced health care-acquired infection rate in ICUs

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Patients in ICU rooms with copper surfaces have a decreased risk for health care-acquired infections than patients treated in standard rooms, new research suggests.

“Several recent studies have described the impact of environmental contamination as it relates to acquisition of nosocomial pathogens and risk for healthcare-acquired infections,” study researcher Cassandra D. Salgado, MD, associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, told Infectious Disease News. “Clinicians should recognize that novel approaches to mitigate risk by reducing environmental contamination are emerging, including the technology in our study of surfacing high-touch objects within the patient room with metallic copper.”

Cassandra D. Salgado, MD 

Cassandra D. Salgado

The study included 614 participants in 16 study rooms (eight copper and eight standard). Room items with copper surfaces included bed rails, tables, IV poles, the arms of visitors’ chairs, nurses’ call button, computer mouse, touch screen monitor or the palm rest of a laptop computer.

Researchers found that 7.5% of participants developed health care-acquired infections and 4.2% were colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusor vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE).

Participants in rooms with copper surfaces had significantly lower rates of health care-acquired infections and/or MRSA or VRE colonization than participants in standard rooms (0.071 vs. 0.123; P=.020). Researchers also found that participants in rooms with copper surfaces had a decreased risk for health care-acquired infections only (0.034 vs. 0.081; P=.013).

“Further study is needed to more fully explain the association with environmental contamination and healthcare infections as well as to delineate which technologies are appropriate for certain patient populations,” Salgado said.

Disclosure: Salgado reports salary support from the US Army Materiel Command, grant support from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and serves as educational consultant for Outcomes, Inc. See the study for a full list of disclosures.