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Copper beds in ICU may reduce Hospital-acquired infections, finds research

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Knowledge of copper’s antimicrobial properties dates back to ancient Ayurveda when drinking water was often stored in copper vessels to prevent illness. In the modern medical era, numerous studies have noted copper’s antimicrobial properties. Researchers have found that copper hospital beds in the Intensive Care Unit may reduce Hospital-acquired infections.

Copper hospital beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) harboured an average of 95 per cent fewer bacteria than conventional hospital beds, according to a new study. Surprisingly these lower levels of bacteria were maintained throughout patients’ stay in hospital. The research has been published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The microbial burden associated with near-patient, touch surfaces results in a greater risk of healthcare-associated infections. It is a common knowledge that acute-care beds may be a critical fomite, as the traditional plastic surfaces harbour the highest concentrations of bacteria associated with high-touch surfaces in a hospital room’s patient zone.

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“Hospital-acquired infections sicken approximately 2 million Americans annually, and kill nearly 100,000, numbers roughly equivalent to the number of deaths if a wide-bodied jet crashed every day,” said co-author Michael G. Schmidt, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston. They are the eighth leading cause of death in the US.

Hospital beds are among the most contaminated surfaces inpatient care settings. “Despite the best efforts by environmental services workers, they are neither cleaned often enough nor well enough,” said Dr Schmidt. Nonetheless, until recently, patient beds incorporating copper surfaces — long known to repel and kill bacteria — have not been commercially available.

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However, until recently, no-one had designed acute-care hospital beds that enabled all high-risk surfaces to be encapsulated in copper. “Based on the positive results of previous trials, we worked to get a fully encapsulated copper bed produced,” said Dr Schmidt. “We needed to convince manufacturers that the risk to undertake this effort was worthwhile.”

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This in situ study compared the relative contamination of intensive care unit (ICU) beds outfitted with copper rails, footboards, and bed controls to traditional hospital beds with plastic surfaces. Nearly 90 per cent of the bacterial samples taken from the tops of the plastic rails had concentrations of bacteria that exceed levels considered safe.

“The findings indicate that antimicrobial copper beds can assist infection control practitioners in their quest to keep healthcare surfaces hygienic between regular cleanings, thereby reducing the potential risk of transmitting bacteria associated with healthcare-associated infections,” said Dr Schmidt.

With the advent of copper encapsulated hospital beds, dividends will likely be paid in improved patient outcomes, lives saved, and healthcare dollars saved.

For further reference log on to :

Self-Disinfecting Copper Beds Sustain Terminal Cleaning and Disinfection (TC&D) Effects Throughout Patient CareApplied and Environmental Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01886-19




Source: American Society for Microbiology

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