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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Antimicrobial Copper's Contribution to Patient Safety Discussed by World Expert

Published: 28 November 2014
Professor Bill Keevil

At this week's Risk Prevention and Patient Safety workshop in Paris, Professor Bill Keevil - a leading expert in environmental health - delivered a keynote presentation on the risk presented to patients by hospital pathogens, and the role copper can play in tackling these and improving patient safety.

The event was organised under the auspices of Le Lien, a patient organisation representing victims of medical accidents, and the World Health Organization's Patients for Patient Safety Initiative, a programme that brings together patients, providers and policy-makers dedicated to improving healthcare safety through advocacy, collaboration and partnership.  An audience of French and international infection control professionals, hospital cleaning managers and health authorities attended.

Professor Keevil is Chair of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, and a global expert in environmental pathogens and copper's antimicrobial properties, having researched copper's efficacy against hospital pathogens such as MRSA and norovirus for more than 20 years.

His presentation concluded a session on the deployment of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces as an additional infection control measure.  Other speakers - from Rambouillet Hospital, North Parisian Private Hospital and Arago Clinic - discussed their experiences with replacing frequently-touched surfaces such as door handles, taps and hand rails with solid antimicrobial copper equivalents, providing a healthier environment for patients.

Professor Keevil presented on the risk to patients from hospital pathogens and his work assessing copper's efficacy against a range of hospital bacteria and viruses that cause healthcare-associated infections.  He also covered follow-on work by clinical trial groups showing antimicrobial copper surfaces continuously reduce contamination by >80%, and a multi-centre clinical trial in the US that further showed these surfaces reduced an ICU patient's risk of acquiring an HCAI by 58%.

According to the WHO, hundreds of millions of patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections worldwide each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems1.

'Given the huge number of patients affected, globally, by healthcare-associated infections, healthcare facilities need to do all they can to prevent their spread,' explains Professor Keevil.  'Solid copper and copper alloy touch surfaces offer an additional line of defence, working to support key infection control measures such as frequent hand washing and regular surface cleaning and disinfection.'

Following the Paris event, Professor Keevil is an invited speaker at Patient First today in London, an event aimed at improving patient safety across the NHS and independent healthcare organisations.  His presentation is titled 'Infection Reduction - The Case for Copper'.

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