Copper Covering May Cut Hospital Infection Rates

Mon, 10/24/2011 - 5:37am
Michael Smith

Equipping hospital rooms with copper surfaces decreased the risk of acquiring an infection by 45%, researchers reported here.

The finding comes after a previous study that showed that copper surfaces -- such things as bed rails and table tops -- harbor significantly lower numbers of microbes than standard materials, according to Cassandra Salgado, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Taken together, the research suggests that using copper surfaces in hospital rooms could markedly lower the incidence of costly and potentially deadly hospital-acquired infections, Salgado said at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.Copper has long been known to have antimicrobial properties, probably because its elemental structure disrupts cell membranes, Salgado said. She and colleagues have previously shown that the substance inhibits many common pathogens involved in hospital-acquired infections.

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