You are here :  

Using Antimicrobial Copper for Improving Patient Safety

Antimicrobial surface protection for patientsEvery day, hospital workers strive to improve the health of their patients, but almost as much effort is taken to protect those patients from developing additional infections. Since they are filled with the ill, elderly, and immune-weakened, hospitals are a regrettably frequent source of additional disease. These healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are not only dangerous, but they are also increasingly resistant to treatment. With HAI becoming more difficult to treat with each passing year, taking steps to prevent infection in the first place is becoming more and more crucial. Fortunately, these are situations with which antimicrobial copper is poised to help.

What Is a Healthcare-Acquired Infection?

As the name implies, a HAI is any infection developed during care in a healthcare facility that isn’t related to the reason the patient was admitted or to the symptoms they were showing at the time. Additionally, an infection is considered healthcare-acquired if it occurs within three days of being discharged or 30 days following an operation. With over 220,000 HAI incidents in Canada each year, and up to 12,000 deaths from them annually, these infections are one of the most common healthcare complications in the country.

Between staff, visitors, and other patients, there are a lot of different ways that infections can reach someone during a hospital stay. One of the more common vectors is what are called “touch surfaces”—any surface or object that can be used to spread pathogens on contact. The danger from a touch surface is directly related to how likely it is that someone will be in contact with it. Consequently, the most important touch surfaces in the average hospital room include the following:

  • The rails patients use to lift themselves into and out of bed
  • Chair arms
  • IV poles
  • Remote controls
  • Bed trays
  • Countertops and bedside stands

  • How Does Antimicrobial Copper Protect Patients?

    One of copper’s more common uses is in wiring to help conduct electricity. This is similar to how it is used as an antimicrobial surface. When bacteria come into contact with copper, the electricity that holds the cellular membrane together is drawn away. With the membrane disrupted, key molecules are pulled apart and the membrane will rupture. In the event that the bacteria do not perish from this loss of cohesion, the resulting influx of copper molecules will inevitably poison them to death. Therefore, strategic placement of copper surfaces can provide ongoing antimicrobial protections that kill 99.99% of pathogens on contact.

    The tricky part is that copper is not cheap and can be expensive to acquire and coat a room with. This is why copper alloy coatings exist. They allow hospitals to protect patients with the antimicrobial power of the metal without the same financial cost.

    Aereus Technologies is a Canadian biotech company headquartered in Burlington, Ontario. Our research and development into copper alloy-based technology has resulted in the antimicrobial coating, Aereus Shield™. Contact us at 888-633-8460 to learn more about antimicrobial surfaces and how Aereus Shield™ can help enhance healthcare safety.

    The following two tabs change content below.

    Michelle Berelowitz

    Michelle Berelowitz has 15+ years commercializing technology start-ups in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor with strong strategic, operational and management skills within both publicly traded and technology based start-up companies. Michelle has a background in manufacturing, ICT and biotech combined with degrees in political science, finance &strategic management and Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology from the University of Waterloo.