Antimicrobial Copper

WSSK Hospital, Wroclaw, Poland

Following a growing number of hospitals around the world, WSSK Hospital, located in Wroclaw, south-west Poland, has implemented antimicrobial copper surfaces in its Nephrology Ward. The aim is to use the antimicrobial properties of copper in order to reduce the number of bacteria contaminating the most frequently-touched surfaces - such as door handles, bed rails and call buttons - that can cause serious infections amongst patients.

Professor Wojciech Witkiewicz, the hospital director, was keen to re-introduce copper into the hospital environment as he recalled his early days at another hospital furnished with equipment made of copper including toilet seats, hand rails and mixing bowls.  "This may be the answer to the recently observed increase in drug resistant strains found in hospitals," he observes.

WSSK Hospital is a modern facility with highly-qualified staff, offering modern operational techniques and high standards of treatment and care. The hospital is the centre for both medical and research activities in many specialities such as vascular surgery, transplantation, oncology, adult and paediatric cardiology, angiology, anaesthesiology, nephrology, urology, ophthalmology, ENT, gynecology and obstetrics. Over 150 medical doctors work at the hospital including Professor Witkiewicz, Hospital Director and world-class surgeon.

Further to the ward refit, laboratory tests are being carried out to verify the effectiveness of this pioneering solution on local clinical strains of bacteria.  Professor Witkiewicz and his team are optimistic about the results as similar trials carried out in the UK and US have confirmed copper surfaces are capable of reducing surface bioburden in busy clinical environments by greater than 90%.

The following surfaces were upgraded to copper, or one of the many copper alloys with proven antimicrobial efficacy:

  • Door handles (cupronickel)
  • Grab rails in bathrooms and showers (brass)
  • Grab rails in toilets and a shower chair in a disabled bathroom (copper)
  • Portable drip stands (copper)
  • Drip stands for hospital bed use (copper)
  • Treatment trolleys (copper)
  • Bed rails (brass)
  • Toilet flush plates (copper)
  • Toilet seats (copper)
  • Light switches (bronze)

Some of these products were custom-made for the project.  Many bear the Cu+ mark, which is used by leading manufacturers of hospital equipment, furniture and fittings to indicate their products are made from approved copper alloys, which are collectively termed 'Antimicrobial Copper'.  The mark signifies scientific validation that the product bearing it is antimicrobially effective, backed by peer-reviewed, published laboratory and clinical research and independent verification from the US Environmental Protection Agency registration.

UK companies Allgood and AS Hardware contributed Cu+ marked products to the installation, expanding their market from existing UK installations as demand for Antimicrobial Copper touch surfaces grows throughout Europe.

 

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