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Laboratory research suggests that copper and copper alloys inhibit bacteria far better than stainless steel at room temperature.1 Now, a federally funded study will test the hypothesis in hospital settings. A series of three trials will be conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and two facilities in Charleston, South Carolina. The goal is to determine if replacing stainless steel with copper, brass, and bronze surfaces will inhibit microbial growth, decrease cross-contamination, and reduce hospital-acquired infections.


In related news, two newly approved products incorporate antimicrobial substances to prevent infections:


* The Agento IC silver-coated endotracheal tube (C.R. Bard, Inc.) is indicated for patients who are intubated for more than 24 hours. The new tube elutes silver ions, inhibiting microbial growth and reducing the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia, according to the manufacturer.


* The V-link Luer-activated device with VitalShield protective coating (Baxter) is the first needless intravenous connector containing an antimicrobial coating. This device has been shown to kill 99.9% of common pathogens known to cause bloodstream infections, including MRSA, according to the manufacturer.




1. Noyce JO, et al. Potential uses of copper surfaces to reduce survival of epidemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the healthcare environment. Journal of Hospital Infection. July 2006. [Context Link]