French hospital mandates copper surfaces

By John Connole
Tuesday, 09 October, 2012

Europe is getting behind the use of antimicrobial copper to help fight hospital infections.

The Centre Hospitalier de Rambouillet located near Paris is the first hospital in France to install antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to lower the risk of healthcare-associated infections.

Bed rails, trolleys, taps, handrails, door handles, soap dispensers, light switches and push plates made of copper, or copper alloys like brass and bronze, were fitted throughout the hospital’s intensive care and paediatric units.

Rambouillet’s Director, Jean-Pierre Richard, said it was the scientific evidence that had convinced him to mandate antimicrobial copper surfaces, also known as Cu+. In particular he referred to the three-hospital study in the US funded by the Department of Defense that’s shown a 40 per cent risk reduction from copper surfaces in early results.

“We decided to affect a proactive risk prevention policy by using innovative materials that will have no impact on the way the medical staff work while protecting patients,” Richard said.

“There’s growing evidence that the environment has a significant role to play in the transmission of infection, and alongside standard hygiene practices like systematic hand washing, copper touch surfaces help to considerably reduce microbial contamination.

” The hospital’s head of hygiene, Dr Patrick Pina, said the hospital would now monitor the impact of the copper surfaces on HCAI rates.

“The assessment protocol we've developed will enable us to determine whether copper can play a central role in the prevention of infections in hospital,” Dr Pina said. “We hope our results will be as promising as the ones recently obtained in the United States.”

Recent French statistics have shown that hospital infections-also called nosocomial diseases-kill 3,500 people each year who go to hospital for treatment, a figure that’s comparable to the country’s annual road toll.

Cu+ air conditioners launch in Europe

European hospitals will also be the first in the world to get healthier air using air-handling units built with Antimicrobial Copper coils.

Produced by French manufacturer Hydronic, in association with Centre d’Information du Cuivre- Laitons et Alliages (CICLA), the units are the first to be permitted to use the Antimicrobial Copper Cu+ mark.

The copper coils are proving adept at reducing the mould that can build up in heating and cooling systems. In fact laboratory testing has shown that after 24 hours of exposure to copper surfaces several common mould species were totally eliminated, while aluminum elements had no effect on reducing fungal growth.

According to Hydronic Product Manager, Thomas Dupire, the Cu+ brand was a perfect fit for the company’s strategy to move in to the hospital environment.

“Our air handling unit was designed to comply with air hygiene standards and the Antimicrobial Copper coils also have a better thermal efficiency, up to 8 per cent higher than standard aluminium coils,” he said.

Last year the Chinese air-conditioning giant, Chigo, launched the world’s first Antimicrobial Copper room air conditioner with the Cu+ mark and Hyronics new entry suggests this may soon be a global market.

What’s happening here?

The Cu+ brand is being developed and promoted here by the Copper Development Centre.Australia, part of the International Copper Association. The CDC has now formed the Antimicrobial Copper Consortium with major Australian companies Assa Abloy, MM Kembla, Crane Copper Tube, Esco, Clipsal and Austral Wright.

“We’re talking to all governments and major hospitals across the country just to make sure the key people are aware of how Antimicrobial Copper surfaces can help cut deaths and costs from hospital infections,” CDC. Australia CEO, John Fennell, said.

John can be contacted at or 02 9380 2000

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