Medical and Healthcare

51% of patients in Intensive Care Units worldwide have infections and are more than twice as likely to die compared to patients without infections.[1] 80% of infectious diseases are transferred by touch.[2]

A worldwide study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed the infection status of over 13,000 patients from 1,200 Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in 75 countries.[1] More than half of all patients had an infection. The survey found that more than half of all patients had an infection and those that were infected were more than twice as likely to die as uninfected patients. In addition to increased mortality, it was found that the risk for acquiring an infection increases the longer a patient stays in the ICU.  Of those patients that were in the ICU for a day or less, only 32% had infections, while of those patients that stayed in the ICU for more than a week 70% had infections.

80% of infectious diseases are transferred by touch.[2] While healthcare professionals employ strict infection control measures including hand-washing and frequent surface disinfection, these measures are not enough as the number of hospital acquired infections each year continues to rise.[1] Frequently touched surfaces in ICUs are heavily contaminated with anywhere from several hundred to over ten thousand colony forming units of infectious bacteria[3].  These surfaces are touched by patients, families, doctors, nurses, and cleaning staff and it is exactly here where an added line of defence now is available.

Antimicrobial Copper touch surfaces kill the microbes that cause infections where they lie. Antimicrobial Copper surfaces are the most effective antimicrobial touch surface and are ideal for the healthcare environment where their inherent, continuous ability to kill bacteria will supplement infection control measures.

There are five good reasons to install antimicrobial copper surfaces. They offer:

  1. Continuous and significant bioburden reduction[4,5]
  2. Improved patient outcomes[6]
  3. A supplement to standard hygiene practices[5,7]
  4. Payback in less than one year[8]
  5. Simple, cost-effective intervention

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.


  1. International Study of the Prevalence and Outcomes of Infection in Intensive Care Units, JAMA, 2009; 302(21). December 2009.
  2. The Secret Life of Germs. P Tierno, Atria Books: New York, NY, USA. 2001.
  3. A Pilot Study to Determine the Effectiveness of Copper in Reducing the Microbial Burden (MB) of Objects in Rooms of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Patients, C D Salgado, A Morgan, K A Sepkowitz et al. Poster 183, 5th Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections, Atlanta. March 29, 2010.
  4. Sustained Reduction of Microbial Burden on Common Hospital Surfaces through Introduction of Copper, Michael G Schmidt, Hubert H Attaway, Peter A Sharpe, Joseph John Jr, Kent A Sepkowitz, Andrew Morgan, Sarah E Fairey, Susan Singh, Lisa L Steed, J Robert Cantey, Katherine D Freeman, Harold T Michels and Cassandra D Salgado. J Clin Microbiol July 2012 vol. 50 no. 7 2217-2223. Published ahead of print 2 May 2012, doi: 10.1128/JCM.01032-12.
  5. Antimicrobial Efficacy of Copper Alloy Furnishing in the Clinical Environment; a Cross-over Study, Karpanen T J, Casey A L, Lambert P A, Cookson B D, Nightingale P, Miruszenko L and Elliott T S J. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
  6. Copper Touch Surface Initiative. Microbiology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, Schmidt MG, USA, BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):O53 (Oral presentation delivered at 1st International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control, June 29-July 2, 2011, Geneva, Switzerland).
  7. Evaluation of Antimicrobial Properties of Copper Surfaces in an Outpatient Infectious Disease Practice, Seema Rai, Bruce E Hirsch, Hubert H Attaway, Richard Nadan, S Fairey, J Hardy, G Miller, Donna Armellino, Wilton R Moran, Peter Sharpe, Adam Estelle, J H Michel, Harold T Michels and Michael G Schmidt.
  8. Pub 212 - Near-patient Antimicrobial Copper Touch Surfaces for Infection Control - The Business Case.

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