Copper’s Antimicrobial Properties Used Since the Ancient Egyptians
The medical community is well aware of the fact that the antibacterial properties of copper have been utilized for centuries. The ancient Egyptians used copper to sterilize their drinking water and kill bacteria in chest wounds. Likewise the Romans, Greeks and Aztecs followed suit and used the compounds in copper to treat a variety of ailments from headaches to earaches to burns. So, it’s no surprise that modern medicine is getting reacquainted with the wonders of this super-element thousands of years later.
Hospitals Across America Taking New Steps to Reduce Infection Rates
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are trying to reduce the number of infections patients contract while in a healthcare setting for a completely separate health issue. This is in part to provide better medical care outcomes, but in all honesty the problem of hospital acquired infections is a problem that has existed in hospitals and short and long-term care facilities for a very long time and the rate of infections had shown very little if any improvement over the last decade. That is until a part of the Affordable Care Act took aim at the problem and began penalizing hospitals that do not reduce their rates of hospital acquired infections. Since the ACA made this a part of the healthcare mandate there has been measurable improvement, but there is a long, long way to go.
Hospital administrators are now thinking out of the box to come up with as many ways to reduce infection rates as they can brain-storm up. One such method is installing metallic copper touch surfaces in hospitals on high touch surfaces that are typically a breeding ground for very infectious and even deadly bacteria. Surfaces such as; bed rails, chairs, food trays, cabinet pulls, door handles, faucet handles on sinks, toilet levers, towel bars, IV poles, call buttons, light switches, soap and towel dispensers, grab rails, and door touch plates in ICU units. All of these type high touch surfaces are being replaced with copper alloy surfaces. These copper alloy surfaces have the ability to destroy a wide array of bacterium and fungi almost on contact or within a minute or so. The copper alloy surfaces are capable of destroying E. coli, MRSA, Staphylococcus, C. difficile, influenza A virus, and adenovirus providing a critical means of greatly reducing the number of the most common hospital acquired infections causing serious illness and death.
Studies Beginning to Track Initiatives Results
The results of a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in March of 2014 points out the urgent need for hospitals to seriously address the problem when it was revealed that a survey of 183 hospitals in ten states showed for the year 2011 alone there were about 721,800 hospital acquired infections found in 648,000 patients, more than 78,000 of these patients died from the infections they acquired. Recent research has also indicated that these hospital infections cost the United States about $9.8 billion dollars each year.
Another initiative being put forward by the CDC to decrease hospital acquired infection is a promotional campaign on hand washing at hospitals. The CDC will utilize the future reports to develop better means of reducing infections and the ability to know what areas of infection needs more scrutiny due to lack of progress in reducing certain types of infection according to the reports.
Don’t be Afraid to Speak Up
One more avenue of prevention is patient and family awareness of the dangers of acquired infection in hospitals. Encouraging patients and family members to take notice and speak up if their healthcare providers did not wash their hands when they entered the hospital room before touching the equipment in the room or the patient. Deadly bacteria is easily transferred from the previous patient to the next if the healthcare provider does not wash their hands immediately when entering the room, politely but firmly ask your doctor, nurse, or any other healthcare provider to wash their hands.