Hospital beds are among the most contaminated surfaces in medical settings. Every year, nearly 2 million Americans get sick because of that, while around 100,000 lose their lives, making hospital beds the eighth leading cause of death in the US.
Researchers have spent years looking for ways to prevent this serious issue, and it seems that a low-tech solution could be the answer: copper. In a recent study, researchers suggested that lining hospital beds with copper could be a cheap and easy way to reduce healthcare-associated infections, especially among the most vulnerable patients.
In fact, the findings have shown that copper hospital beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) harbored an average of 95 percent fewer bacteria than conventional hospital beds – and maintained these low-risk levels throughout patients’ stay in hospital.
Knowledge of copper’s antimicrobial properties dates back to ancient Ayurveda when drinking water was often stored in copper vessels to prevent illness. In the modern medical era, numerous studies have noted copper’s antimicrobial properties. However, until recently, no-one had designed acute–care hospital beds that enabled all high-risk surfaces to be encapsulated in copper.
This simple solution would not only save hundreds of thousands of lives and improve patient outcomes every year but would also save a lot of money in the process, which could be put to better uses such as research.