Copper Surfaces May Reduce Hand-Transmitted Infections in PALTC
Infection control is a top priority for post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) facilities. A new study in the January issue of JAMDA showed that copper surfaces may reduce the incidence of hand-transmitted healthcare-associated infections (HAI). This, the authors concluded, could represent a relatively simple way to help prevent HAIs in nursing homes.
In Copper for the Prevention of Outbreaks of Healthcare-Associated Infections in a Long-Term Care Facility for Elders, the authors observed that the antimicrobial properties of copper have long been known. However, they noted, in recent years this substance has been used to control nosocomial infections—those that occur in hospitals and are potentially caused by organisms resistant to antibiotics—and it has been suggested that copper be used to coat contact surfaces.
The authors studied outbreaks in a nursing home with two distinct wings and a total of 362 beds. One wing was equipped with copper surfaces; the other was not. The authors identified four documented outbreaks during the study period. Specifically, they found that for the second and third outbreaks (keratoconjunctivitis and gastroenteritis, respectively), the risk of infection was significantly lower in the wing equipped with copper surfaces.
Overall, the authors said, “Our study shows a protective effect of copper surfaces against the risk of HAIs, but only those caused by hand-transmitted pathogens.” They further noted that their findings are consistent with the largest study to date on this issue. They concluded that the “installation of antimicrobial copper or copper-containing surfaces (such as door handles, support bars, and handrails) could represent a relatively simple measure to help prevent HAIs in nursing homes.”
This study was conducted by researchers at the Reims University Hospitals, Robert Debre Hospital Department of Research and Innovation, Reims, France.
JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.
About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.