Emergency Hospital Protects Patients with Copper Bed Rails

Antimicrobial copper bedrails at the Emergency Hospital for Public Assistance in Chile

Chile's most important public hospital has upgraded the rails and handles on beds in Critical Care, Burn and Surgical wards to antimicrobial copper as part of ongoing efforts to enhance patient safety.

13th January 2015

The Emergency Hospital for Public Assistance (HUAP) joins healthcare facilities around the world installing touch surfaces made from solid copper and copper alloys – collectively termed 'antimicrobial copper' – as an additional method of preventing infection. With proven efficacy against bacteria that cause healthcare-associated infections, including MRSA and C. difficile, and highly-infectious viruses such as Influenza A and norovirus, antimicrobial copper surfaces continuously reduce contamination, in-between regular cleaning, reducing the risk of pathogens being picked up on people's hands and spreading infection.

Bed rails were identified as the most contaminated surfaces in a patient's immediate surroundings in a study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina. The study also found antimicrobial copper rails were far more resistant to contamination than plastic rails. With once-daily cleaning, the copper rails routinely kept bioburden below a low-risk threshold for an entire shift, whereas plastic rails needed cleaning at least every 4.5 hours. In a larger trial, of which this study formed a part, replacing frequently-touched surfaces with antimicrobial copper equivalents reduces the risk of infection by 58%.

HUAP – a public accident and emergency hospital and teaching facility – has also replaced door handles, sinks and taps, IV poles and overbed tables with antimicrobial copper equivalents, supplied and fitted by local company CopperBioHealth, in partnership with Codelco. The hospital's on-site education auditorium – which hosts medical lectures and events – has also been fitted with chairs that have antimicrobial copper arms as part of a hollistic approach to infection prevention.

For more information on antimicrobial copper, visit www.antimicrobialcopper.org.


For more information and high-resolution images, contact:

Bryony Samuel
Communications Officer
Copper Development Association

Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.

Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.

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