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Irish Hospital First to Harness Copper Technology to Fight Infections

Date

11 Jan 2010

Sections

Health & Consumers

Brussels, January the 12th 2010 An Irish hospital is the first in the world to embrace the latest science

by specifying hygienic copper door handles throughout in a bid to reduce healthcare associated infections

such as MRSA, providing the best possible solid protection to its patients.


St Francis Private Hospital, a 140-bed facility located in Mullingar, County Westmeath, and its associated

nursing home, St Clair’s, made the decision after examining the compelling evidence from the clinical

trial at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, which showed that copper surfaces such as taps, toilet seats and

door pushplates can reduce microbial contamination by 90-100%. A total of 250 door handles will be

replaced at St Francis Private Hospital, with the work primarily taking place in January.


The General Manager and Director of Nursing, Noeleen Sheridan, explains the landmark decision: “All

healthcare facilities are acutely aware of the risks from the spread of germs and the high costs of

negating them. As it is estimated that 80% of infections are spread by touch, keeping surfaces like door

handles as germ free as possible will impact on the spread of infection. Our decision to specify

antimicrobial copper products is based on this conviction, and the compelling evidence from the Selly

Oak clinical trial.”


Professor Tom Elliott, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust’s Deputy Medical

Director and leader of the Selly Oak copper clinical trial, believes copper could play a key role in helping

to contain healthcare associated infections. “Laboratory research has shown that MRSA and Clostridium

difficile microbes die much more quickly when they come into contact with copper-based surfaces than

on the usual surfaces you find in a hospital. It is an exciting development and could provide NHS Trusts

with yet another means of tackling the spread of healthcare associated infections.”


The use of copper as a preventative health measure is becoming increasingly well recognised. Copper is

the first solid surface material to be registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as having

proven public health benefits, helping to reduce contamination between cleans. Antimicrobial copper

surfaces have been shown to kill more than 99.9% of specific bacteria (including the MRSA superbug)

within two hours, and to continue to kill more than 99% of these bacteria even after repeated

contamination.


Noeleen Sheridan explains the relevance of this to those responsible for infection prevention and control:

“Copper touch surfaces serve as an extra line of defence in addition to the hospital’s accredited hygiene

measures. This initiative is part of our commitment to improving the quality of patient safety and care

through effective risk management and infection control.”


Whilst St Francis is leading the way, it seems other healthcare facilities will not be left behind.

Healthcare architects in the UK have begun specifying antimicrobial copper, and many refurbishment

projects are anticipated across NHS Trusts in 2010.


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