Effectiveness of Copper-Impregnated Solid Surfaces on Lowering Microbial Bio-Burden Levels in an Acute Care Hospital

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 19;7(8):ofaa238. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofaa238. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Background: Microbial bio-burden on high-touch surfaces in patient rooms may lead to acquisition of health care-associated infections in acute care hospitals. This study examined the effect of a novel copper-impregnated solid material (16%-20% copper oxide in a polymer-based resin) on bacterial contamination on high-touch surfaces in patient rooms in an acute care hospital.

Methods: Five high-touch surfaces were sampled for aerobic bacterial colonies (ABCs) 3 times per day over a 3-day period in 16 rooms with copper installed and 16 rooms with standard noncopper laminate installed on high-touch surfaces. A Bayesian multilevel negative binomial regression model was used to compare ABC plate counts from copper-impregnated surfaces with standard hospital laminate surfaces.

Results: The mean and median (interquartile range [IQR]) ABC counts from copper-impregnated surfaces were 25.5 and 11 (4-27), and for standard hospital laminate surfaces they were 60.5 and 29 (10-74.3). The negative binomial regression model-estimated incidence rate for ABC counts on plates taken from copper-impregnated surfaces was 0.40 (0.21-0.70) times the incidence rate of ABC counts on plates taken from standard hospital laminate surfaces.

Conclusions: Copper-impregnated solid surfaces may reduce the level of microbial contamination on high-touch surfaces in patient rooms in the acute care environment, as our study demonstrated a decline in microbial bio-burden on samples taken from copper-impregnated compared with standard hospital laminate high-touch surfaces.

Keywords: copper; health care–associated infection; microbial bio-burden; no-touch disinfection.