November 12, 2015
1 min read

Copper surfaces reduce health care-associated infections in pediatric unit

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Copper surfaces, such as bedrails, faucet handles and IV polls, were effectively antimicrobial in a pediatric hospital, according to data in the American Journal of Infection Control.

“The role that the built environment serves in the transmission of pathogens has received increased attention from the infection control community,” Michael G. Schmidt, PhD, professor and vice chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, and colleagues wrote. “The data reported here established that antimicrobial copper surfaces are equivalently effective for their ability to control the environmental microbial burden in a pediatric setting.”

The researchers examined 1,012 pediatric patients admitted to two high acuity units at a pediatric hospital in Santiago, Chile, during a 12-month study. Patients were divided into a control group, assigned to four normally outfitted rooms in the pediatric ICU and four intermediate care rooms, and an intervention group, assigned to four PICU and four intermediate care rooms outfitted with antimicrobial copper. The microbial burden was sampled from three frequently encountered surfaces in each room, two times monthly.

The investigators reported an 88% reduction in the microbial burden collectively sampled from three objects in the copper intervention group compared with the control group (P = .0000). They also wrote that copper surfaces in this study were equally as antimicrobial as copper surfaces used in a similar study conducted among the adult population.

“Although the relative risk reduction failed to achieve statistical significance, we are encouraged that through reducing burden with copper surfaces, we were able to observe fewer infections among patients within the PICU,” Schmidt and colleagues wrote. “Copper surfaces warrant serious consideration involving any systematic approach for reducing health care-associated infection acquisition in adult and pediatric settings.” – by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.