‘Copper’ load of these new hospital beds which aim to combat possible infections

One of the antimicrobial copper beds at Pilgrim Hospital. Photo courtesy of ACT Surfaces Ltd
One of the antimicrobial copper beds at Pilgrim Hospital. Photo courtesy of ACT Surfaces Ltd

Pilgrim Hospital has installed new copper-coated patient beds to combat the issue of touch surfaces harbouring parthogens.

The special antimicrobial beds in The Bostonian help to address the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals.

Michael Oko, ENT consultant and clinical lead, has championed the replacement of key high-touch surfaces, beginning with bed rails, cabinet handles, chair arms, hand rails, switches, and taps. With these now installed, his intention is to replace more items and roll out the copper upgrade throughout the hospital.

The copper surfaces will not harbour pathogens that cause infections, actively killing them 24/7. It has a proven record against a broad range of pathogens, including those with antibiotic resistance such as MRSA and VRE.

“Replacing the surfaces often touched by staff, patients and visitors will help reduce the risk of infections spreading,” Mr Oko said: “It can be used as an adjunct to other infection control measures – such as regular hand washing, surface cleaning and disinfecting – to improve patient safety.”

“Reducing the rate of infections means a substantial reduction in a patient’s length of stay, a reduction in their mortality risk and a reduction in overall treatment costs. Antimicrobial copper surfaces make sense from a patient safety point of view as well as a financial one.”

Antimicrobial copper has been tested in clinical trials around the world – representing a range of healthcare environments and ward types – and is included as an emerging technology in the latest National Evidence-Based Guidelines for Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections in NHS Hospitals, with studies showing >80% less contamination on copper surfaces than non-copper equivalents.

Results from a US clinical trial, funded by the Department of Defense, further observed a 58% reduction in intensive care unit patients’ risk of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection when just six key touch surfaces in their rooms were replaced with antimicrobial copper items.

“In any clinical environment, certain surfaces will be touched maybe hundreds of times, by dozens of people, every day,’ explains Andrew Cross of ACT Surfaces, who is working on the Pilgrim project.

“These are the key touch surfaces to identify as they will offer the most benefit when replaced with antimicrobial copper equivalents.

“Part of the service ACT Surfaces offers is working with the hospital infection control team to identify those ‘problem’ touch surfaces in a given facility which, when upgraded to antimicrobial copper, will reduce the infection risk to patients and yield the best clinical savings.

“Payback or return on investment will be quickest when items are upgraded to copper during new-build, or scheduled refurbishment or renovation, but with The Bostonian, the solid scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy and cost-effectiveness is so compelling that the client felt they had to act immediately.”