French hospital uses copper to help keep bugs at bay

Installs copper fixtures and fittings in intensive care and paediatric units

A hospital near Paris has become the first in France to install antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to help reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).

The Centre hospitalier de Rambouillet has fitted bed rails, trolleys, taps, handrails, door handles and push plates made of copper and copper alloys in the intensive care and paediatric units.

The hospital’s director, Jean-Pierre Richard, says: “Based on 15 years of scientific research carried out in laboratories and in hospitals that demonstrates copper’s antimicrobial properties, we decided to equip our intensive care and paediatric units accordingly. We decided to affect a proactive risk prevention policy by using innovative materials that will have no impact on the way the medical staff work. The main purpose of this operation is to improve the well-being and safety of our patients.”

Dr Patrick Pina, head of Rambouillet Hospital’s hygiene department, added: “Disease prevention is now a priority for us. It is crucial for units such as intensive care and paediatrics to take measures to prevent any propagation of pathogens that might lead to an epidemic among patients who are particularly vulnerable.”

Dr Pina will assess the impact of the use of copper on the rate of HCAIs in the hospital, and the French Ministry of Health will use the data generated in its evaluation of the adoption of antimicrobial copper surfaces in healthcare.

“We hope our results will be as promising as the ones obtained in the US,” said Pina.

Last July, Professor Michael Schmidt of the Medical University of South Carolina presented the initial results of a study carried out in three American hospitals, which revealed that replacing six key touch surfaces with antimicrobial copper equivalents reduced patients’ risk of acquiring an HAI by more than 40%.

“Alongside standard hygiene practices such as systematic hand washing, copper touch surfaces help to considerably reduce microbial contamination,” added Richard.

“Antimicrobial copper works as a supplement to standard infection prevention measures, working to reduce surface contamination in between cleans where non-copper surfaces will harbour bacteria and viruses until they are next cleaned.”

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