WHO Patient Safety Newsletter Explores Copper for Infection Prevention and AMR Control

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization's latest Patients for Patient Safety newsletter features a case study on the use of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to help control infections in a medical clinic.

12 June 2017

The article explores the deployment of antimicrobial copper door handles and hand rails at Arago Clinic in France, a facility specialising in prosthetic limbs. It also examines the contribution copper surfaces can make to combatting the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Arago installed the antimicrobial copper surfaces during its reconstruction, having been made aware of its value in infection prevention and control by France's foremost patient advocacy group, Le Lien.

In a 2016 interview, Director of Care Auriane Bessa noted: 'Our medical teams are made aware of the risks of spreading infection by touch. Hand hygiene and standard precautions are part of their everyday routines. Copper door handles and handrails are additional protection for non-professionals who need to enter the clinic.'

The article also references work by Professor Bill Keevil at the University of Southampton, which found horizontal gene transfer—a key mechanism in the evolution of multi-drug resistance in bacteria—does not occur on copper and copper alloy surfaces, whilst it can and does occur on stainless steel and other standard, non-copper surfaces.

Click here to read the newsletter (see Page 11 for the copper article).

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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