Antimicrobial Copper Forms Part of Multi-Dimensional Approach to Hygiene

As part of its general refurbishment measures, Hagen General Hospital (AKH Hagen) has equipped its children’s intensive care ward with antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to help lower the risk of healthcare-associated infections. The decision was taken as part of the hospital’s ‘multi-dimensional approach to hygiene.’
 
ReinhardTennert, Director of AKH, explains: “It is important for us to get ahead with investing in supplementary hygiene measures, and to therefore be able to offer our youngest patients the best possible protection against infections carried by germs. Cases of illness resulting from a lack of hygiene are unethical, extremely expensive due to treatment costs of up to a quarter of a million Euros per case of treatment, and furthermore have a negative effect on the image of the whole organisation.”
 
In addition to 60 beds in the children’s clinic, AKH has a further eight beds available for intensive acute or long-term medical care of children of all ages. In order to ensure the best placement of antimicrobial copper surfaces, it was necessary to identify key areas in the environment were contamination was most likely to result in infections.
 
AKH’s Technical Manager, Peter Uszkoreit, says of this step: “Since door and window handles are frequently touched by both medical personnel and visitors, these have all been replaced with copper fittings.” This, however, is just the beginning. He also wants to see other hotspots upgraded to antimicrobial copper, including light switches and bed rails.
 
Dr. Gerhard Koch, Head Physician in Paediatrics at the Academic Teaching Hospital of the Ruhr University of Bochum, is responsible for medical quality management at AKH Hagen. He and his staff are advised by HYBETA, a company that assists hospitals with the implementation of hygiene rules for infection prevention.
 
ReinhardBerkemeier, an externally-contracted hygiene specialist at HYBETA, was surprised by the strength of antimicrobial copper research when he looked into it for this project. “I read the results of the international research studies with interest, all of which proved the reduction of pathogenic organisms on defined copper alloys – and in many cases with up to 97% of the germ concentration,” he observes.
 
The second phase of the refurbishment is planned to occur in early 2013, during which key fixtures and fittings in the Perinatal Centre at the highest level of perinatal care (Level 1) are to be replaced with antimicrobial copper items.
 
Editor’s Note
A total of 99 door and window handles were installed at AKH Hagen, supplied by manufacturer Wilhelm May GmbH.
 
Published by Hellenic Copper Development Institute (www.copper.org.gr)
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