October 18, 2016

Copper Is The Simple Solution To Hospital Infections

Copper Sink Hospital Health Bacteria InfectionHospitals are a center for bacterial infections; people sometimes leave with a bacterial infection that they did not have before entering the hospital. The 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study stated that the medical harm caused in the United States led to over 40,000 harmful errors each day, causing hundreds of millions in damages [1]. It is essential that there are efforts made in order to reduce this number. Some of this can be rectified by maintaining higher levels of cleanliness in a hospital, but there is always human error. Recent studies based on common knowledge has yielded a unique new approach.

In an article by the New York Times, a new study performed by the American Journal of Infection Control was reviewed. It determined that “installing copper equipment in hospital rooms may be a good way to reduce infections” [2]. Historically, copper has been used to sanitize water and clean wounds. Researchers arrived at a more scientific conclusion by comparing the abundance of bacteria on commonly touched equipment made of copper and commonly touched equipment made of more common materials (metal, porcelain, plastic, etc.). After contamination researchers took swabs of this equipment (toilet flush levers, door handles, light switches, etc.) and tried growing the bacteria in the lab.

The results indicated that the copper fixtures had as much as 98% less bacteria on them, and on half of the swabs taken from the copper fixtures did not grow any additional bacteria.

Although hospital staff have certain procedures for cleansing and sanitizing their environments these new ideas can have a positive effect on improving hospital conditions. Copper fixtures are not yet common in hospital environments but may have a great effect in minimizing bacteria.

[1]Health Grades 2011 Healthcare consumerism and Hospital Quality in America Report. Health Grades. Retrieved from: http://hg-article-center.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/7b/de/dc25d2c94d25ad88c9e1688c9adc/HealthcareConsumerismHospitalQualityReport2011.pdf

[2] Copper Sinks and Faucets May Stem Hospital Infections. Bakalar, Nicholas.  New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/well/copper-sinks-and-faucets-may-stem-hospital-infections.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=health&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Health&pgtype=article

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