Germany’s Largest Geriatric Facility Improves Infection Control with Antimicrobial Copper Touch Surfaces

08/05/2012
 
Germany’s largest geriatric facility – the Berlin Geriatrics Centre (EvangelischesGeriatriezentrum Berlin, or EGZB) – has specified Antimicrobial Copper door furniture throughout to augment its infection prevention procedures. The touch surfaces will rapidly and completely kill bacteria and viruses the settle on them, reducing the risk of infections being passed between patients, staff and visitors.
 
Dr Thomas Krössin, Managing Director of EGZB and the driving force behind the installation, explains why he chose copper: “The fight against multi-resistant strains of bacteria is one we will never win, but that is precisely why we must constantly rethink our strategies. Copper alloys are an interesting innovation in this area and complement standard hygiene strategies.”
 
Each year in Germany, up to 600,000 patients catch healthcare-associated infections, and despite the measures put in place so far, between 7,500 and 15,000 people die as a result. Patients with a weak immune system, such as new-born babies, intensive care patients, the chronically ill and the elderly are particularly at risk.
 
“Our weapons in the fight against nosocomial infections are becoming ever weaker as resistance to antibiotics grows,” warns Professor Martin Exner, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn and President of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene. “That is why nosocomial infections pose one of the greatest medical challenges of the future for the whole of Europe.”
 
As experts call for a multidimensional approach to infection control, an increasing number of German hospitals – for example in Berlin, Hagen and Hamburg – are joining hospitals worldwide in using copper for touch surfaces such as door handles and light switches.
 
“Conventional hygiene strategies such as washing your hands more often and more thoroughly will not be enough in the future,” Professor Exner continues. “They must be supplemented by additional strategies. Potential transmission channels for nosocomial infections in patient environments must also be kept under control. Coppercanplayanimportantpartinthisprocess.”
 
Laboratory research has demonstrated copper’s ability to eliminate bacteria, viruses and fungi at room temperature and humidity. For example, 1cm2 of copper will kill 106 VRE bacteria in under 10 minutes – a greatly more challenging bacterial load than would typically be seen on a hospital touch surface, which could be eliminated considerably faster. The metal also confers this antimicrobial property on many alloys such as brasses, bronzes and copper-nickels, collectively termed ‘antimicrobial copper’.
 
Clinical trials in the UK, US and Chile have demonstrated that antimicrobial copper touch surfaces reduce contamination by greater than 90% compared to non-copper surfaces, and initial data from a recent US trial conducted across three healthcare facilities showed patients benefitted from a greater than 40% reduction in acquiring a hospital infection when in a room where just six key touch surfaces were replaced with antimicrobial copper.
 
EGZB’s installation is the largest-scale deployment of antimicrobial copper in healthcare to date, and joins a growing portfolio of installations in the UK and worldwide where copper plays a significant role in infection control.
 
Published by ICA, http://www.antimicrobialcopper.com
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