Copper in hospital rooms may stop infections
Researchers installed copper alloy surfaces in the areas of the ICU room shown above.
May 14th, 2013
04:12 PM ET

Copper in hospital rooms may stop infections

Hospital-acquired infections are a huge problem in the United States. Wouldn't it be amazing if they could be prevented merely through the materials used in the hospital room?

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina explored covering key surfaces in hospital intensive care units in copper alloy, and found that this is an effective measure against the spread of some key types of bacterial infections. Their study is published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.


Up to $45 billion a year is spent on health care costs related to hospital-acquired infections, and an estimated 100,000 deaths occur annually because of them, the study authors wrote.

The antimicrobial properties of copper have been known for hundreds of years, said Michael Schmidt, the study's senior author - for at least 4,500 years. Ancient Indians realized that if water sits in a copper pot, this prevents illness, because the copper kills the bacteria. It's not used as often nowadays because molded plastics and stainless steel have taken over, being easy and in expensive.

How does it work? Copper is used to transmit electrons in walls for electricity. Similarly, bacteria will donate electrons to the copper metal, which places the organism in an electrical deficit. As a consequence, free radicals are generated inside the cell. The cell's proteins essentially get bleached, and its DNA get fractured. The electrical potential of the cell also gets collapsed.

"It's pretty hard to develop resistance from that multi-hit mechanism of action," Schmidt said.

How they did it

The study authors conducted the trial in the intensive care units of three different hospitals. Patients were randomly placed in copper or non-copper rooms. The study took place between July 2010 and June 2011.

Copper is an expensive material, so researchers carefully chose which parts of the ICU room should have the coating, based on the likelihood of a patient, staff member or visitor touching it. These included the rails that the patient uses to lift himself or herself out of bed, chair arms, the IV pole, the remote control and the tray that's used over the bed. On the whole, copper surfaces covered less than 10% of the room in the settings used in this study.

The researchers were most interested in the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). They compared the rates of hospital-acquired infections from any cause, or colonization with one of these two types of bacteria in the patients. Colonization means the bacteria is present on the person - such as on the skin, respiratory tract or gastrointestinal tract - without signs or symptoms of infection, said lead study author Dr. Cassandra Salgado.


Rooms with copper alloy surfaces were associated with lower infection and colonization for both of these types of bacteria than in normal ICU rooms. For hospital acquired infections, the rate was lowered from 0.081 to 0.034.


The challenge, of course, is investing the capital into buying new furniture and equipment for ICU rooms, Schmidt said. But he calculates that the cost of outfitting a room in this way would be recovered, in terms of money saved from preventing infections, after three months.

The researchers did not look at whether this intervention affects a patient's 30-day readmission rate, or whether it would work in a hospital room that's not part of an ICU.

Other researchers are looking at whether copper also stops carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a deadly, antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria, Schmidt said.

"Bacteria have sex so quickly among their friends in their hospital environment, it may actually reduce the spread of CRE and other multi-drug resistant microbes, simply because the DNA is fractured," Schmidt said.

Some of the study authors reported financial connections to the Copper Development Industry, which is the market development, engineering and information services arm of the copper industry.

But this isn't the only research team that's looking into this question. A separate group at the University of California, Los Angeles, received a $2.5 million federal grant in 2012 to study the germ-fighting effectiveness of copper in hospitals. The cost effectiveness of that is still unclear, said Dr. Daniel Uslan, director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine.

"I suspect the costs will be favorable, but more data is needed and I hope our study at UCLA will answer this important question," he said in an e-mail. "We also don't yet know which surfaces in a room are most critical. Can you get by with just coating one or two items, or do all the touch surfaces need to be copper coated? Obviously the costs will change dramatically depending on the number of surfaces coated."

soundoff (685 Responses)
  1. Brenda Beliz

    Earn $400/Day With Our Passive Income System – Best Autopilot income system 2021


    February 6, 2021 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. xemkqxs.com

    It's enormous that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our argument made here.|


    February 6, 2021 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. www.gu8.pw

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 6, 2021 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. iskenderun escort

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 7, 2021 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. vasúti szállítmányozás Europa-Road Kft.

    Absolutely pent content, thanks for entropy. "No human thing is of serious importance." by Plato.


    February 9, 2021 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Barry House Clearance

    I am glad to be a visitor of this thoroughgoing blog! , regards for this rare information! .


    February 9, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 1500 USA-Visitors-Daily

    Best Social Media Services and Website Traffic Services 2021: https://www.seoclerk.com/user/jackpower99


    February 16, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Best Proxy Providers

    I believe you have noted some very interesting points, regards for the post.


    February 16, 2021 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Best-Social-Media-Services and-Traffic-2021

    High DA PA 50+ Do follow Forum Backlinks: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/836800/High-DA-PA-50-Do-follow-Forum-Backlinks


    February 16, 2021 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. SocialMedia Services2021

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, and retweets? SMM Supreme uses his own panel system to generate social media traffic to any website. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes: $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers: $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Payeer Deposit – Automatic order processing – Our Website: https://smmsupreme.com/


    February 19, 2021 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Limeproxies

    I together with my guys have already been reading through the excellent information from your web blog while immediately I got a horrible feeling I never thanked the web blog owner for those techniques. These men ended up as a result thrilled to read through all of them and have in effect actually been taking pleasure in those things. We appreciate you genuinely indeed accommodating as well as for utilizing these kinds of superb subjects most people are really desirous to discover. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.


    February 20, 2021 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. what is plaquenil taken for

    online doctor erectile dysfunction hydroxychloroquine plaquenil erectile aids

    February 21, 2021 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. buy zithromax online

    azithromycin generic name zithromax price azithrom

    February 22, 2021 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. tadalafil 40 mg from india

    tadalafil 10mg tadalis sx tadalafil peptide

    February 23, 2021 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Boost Youtube Plays

    I'm not sure exactly why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.


    February 25, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. sildenafil online

    https://genericviagragog.com generic viagra sildenafil

    February 25, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Increase Instagram Video Likes

    Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed some nice methods and we are looking to trade methods with other folks, please shoot me an email if interested.


    February 26, 2021 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. ClarkTauts

    gzg1a apikx muab

    February 28, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. ClarkTauts

    1rnsk tpfcy yeeq

    February 28, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Antonio Brassell

    The very core of your writing while sounding reasonable originally, did not sit well with me after some time. Somewhere within the sentences you managed to make me a believer unfortunately just for a very short while. I still have a problem with your leaps in assumptions and one would do well to help fill in all those gaps. In the event that you can accomplish that, I would undoubtedly end up being impressed.


    March 1, 2021 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Cherie Grosh


    March 4, 2021 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dudley Tirado


    March 6, 2021 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ira Yackley

    I have been reading out many of your stories and i can claim nice stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your site.


    April 15, 2021 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mac Nalbandian

    Hey! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Many thanks!


    April 17, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Forklift Tires California

    I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly loved every bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new things you post…


    April 23, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. best realtors near me

    Hello, There's no doubt that your site may be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful website!


    April 23, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Lighting Orange County


    April 23, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lime Proxies

    some really interesting information, well written and broadly user genial.


    April 24, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. toy hauler california

    After checking out a few of the articles on your site, I really appreciate your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and let me know your opinion.


    April 25, 2021 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Camera Near Me


    April 25, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 5 bedroom houses for sale near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and also the rest of the site is also really good.


    April 27, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. aika online download

    Hello there! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you've got here on this post. I'll be returning to your blog for more soon.


    May 4, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Dent Repair Riverside

    Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing!


    May 4, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Bathroom Orange County


    May 4, 2021 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. hino 268a


    May 5, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sabine Lobendahn

    There's certainly a great deal to find out about this topic. I really like all the points you have made.


    May 5, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. nissan nv1500


    May 5, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Az Vision


    May 5, 2021 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. success group


    May 5, 2021 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. accountability group

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I really thought you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 5, 2021 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. volvo truck repair

    I blog frequently and I truly appreciate your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    May 5, 2021 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Oakley Prescription

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my search for something concerning this.


    May 5, 2021 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. plant nursery near me

    I like it when people come together and share opinions. Great website, keep it up!


    May 5, 2021 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. leisure travel van wonder


    May 6, 2021 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Lasik Eye Surgery Phoenix


    May 6, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Optometrist Phoenix Az

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this site.


    May 6, 2021 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Pediatric Eye Exam


    May 6, 2021 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Leak Los Angeles

    Good post. I definitely love this website. Stick with it!


    May 6, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. hiring near me

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 6, 2021 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. upholstery places near me

    Very good info. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!


    May 6, 2021 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.