Sustained reduction of microbial burden on common hospital surfaces through introduction of copper.

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Sustained reduction of microbial burden on common hospital surfaces through introduction of copper.

J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Jul;50(7):2217-23

Authors: Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Sharpe PA, John J, Sepkowitz KA, Morgan A, Fairey SE, Singh S, Steed LL, Cantey JR, Freeman KD, Michels HT, Salgado CD


The contribution of environmental surface contamination with pathogenic organisms to the development of health care-associated infections (HAI) has not been well defined. The microbial burden (MB) associated with commonly touched surfaces in intensive care units (ICUs) was determined by sampling six objects in 16 rooms in ICUs in three hospitals over 43 months. At month 23, copper-alloy surfaces, with inherent antimicrobial properties, were installed onto six monitored objects in 8 of 16 rooms, and the effect that this application had on the intrinsic MB present on the six objects was assessed. Census continued in rooms with and without copper for an additional 21 months. In concert with routine infection control practices, the average MB found for the six objects assessed in the clinical environment during the preintervention phase was 28 times higher (6,985 CFU/100 cm(2); n = 3,977 objects sampled) than levels proposed as benign immediately after terminal cleaning (<250 CFU/100 cm(2)). During the intervention phase, the MB was found to be significantly lower for both the control and copper-surfaced objects. Copper was found to cause a significant (83%) reduction in the average MB found on the objects (465 CFU/100 cm(2); n = 2714 objects) compared to the controls (2,674 CFU/100 cm(2); n = 2,831 objects [P < 0.0001]). The introduction of copper surfaces to objects formerly covered with plastic, wood, stainless steel, and other materials found in the patient care environment significantly reduced the overall MB on a continuous basis, thereby providing a potentially safer environment for hospital patients, health care workers (HCWs), and visitors.

PMID: 22553242 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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