The Acceptance of Copper Alloy as an Infection Control Tool for Medical Organizations (Infection Control Survey Question 5)

posted Nov 14, 2011, 9:51 AM by Todd Fox   [ updated Sep 24, 2016, 8:26 AM ]
The following article will address the results of Question 5 from the Infection Control Survey (See here for the Survey Questions or to take the survey).
 
Since the introduction and proliferation of copper for infection control, most have questioned whether copper will become a staple for medical facilities.  Copper has received many positive studies and shows to be a great solution for high touch areas for hygiene in general.
 
Some organizations have taken the investment leap by putting a sizeable amount down to outfit their facilities with copper, but not many organizations have the resources to do so in this economy.  Part of the problem with copper may also stem from the skepticism that surrounds the material’s ability to take care of microbes.  We surveyed our database of infection control professionals and ended up with the following results:

 

5.       Do you believe that copper is an element for controlling microorganisms?

11.1%  I don't really believe it works that well

51.9%  I think it is effective but don't know exactly

18.5%  I know it is effective and trust research experts

11.1%  Other  Don’t know

7.4%  Other  Cost too much

 

As seen in the percentage conversions of the survey results, over 18% of the respondents indicated that they negatively regard the use of copper.  A large percentage (63%) indicated that they have insufficient knowledge about copper in terms of infection control and the remaining 18.5% know and believe in copper. 

 

With such a large percentage not knowing or regarding copper negatively as a hygiene tool, it may take copper manufacturers longer than expected to aggressively install their products in medical organizations.  One caveat question that can be asked is, “How much influence does an Infection Preventionist have in regards to the purchasing decision of copper for their facility?” 

 

If Infection Preventionists happen to have a lot of influence in purchasing, according to the survey, it may take a long time for copper to become an infection control staple.  However, if the hospital and clinic administrators are swayed by copper sales representatives or take the initiative to educate themselves, copper may gain credibility quickly. 

 

Here are some hurdles that copper must pass in order to be used in a large number facilities:

                -Copper is an expensive alternative to other materials

                -Copper is still widely unknown to a lot of medical professionals

                -There is still a lot of skepticism that exists even among those that know of copper

                -High replacement costs of equipment or equipment parts that still has useful life left

 

Although the hurdles seem to cast a shadow on copper, there are many positives that could outweigh the negatives.  Specifically:

                -Copper can be installed on as many or as few high touch areas

                -No need to retrain environmental cleaning employees (the are recommended not to be retrained it order to provide an extra layer of protection)

                -Continuous benefit rather than a film treatment (coating) that needs to be reapplied

                -Copper is already available in versions of many frequently used devices and sizes

                -More manufacturers means lower prices for customers

                -Maturity of the copper market will help keep implementation costs lower

 

From our research and knowledge of the industry, watch for copper to become a more well know fixture in medical organizations in the coming years.  If you have more information about copper use for the hygiene and infection control industry please contact us.  We would like to write a blog to follow up on any responses we receive.  We want opinions that support AND refute our survey results!  Thank you for reading.

 

Copper Information Resources:

    -“A Pilot Study to Determine the Effectiveness of Copper in Reducing the Microbial Burden (MB) of Objects in Rooms of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Patients” Email salgado@musc.edu (Medical University of South Carolina) for more information.

    -“Antimicrobial Properties of Copper Alloy Surfaces, with a focus on Hospital-Acquired Infections” published by International Journal of Metal Casting.  Copper Development Association Inc., www.metalcastingjournal.com, www.afsinc.org

    -Copper Development Association, www.antimicrobialcopper.com

    -Midbook Medical, www.copperforhealthcare.com

 

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