World's-first anti-microbial copper stethoscope is unveiled

Published: 10-Jul-2012

Spirit Medical device aids infection control in healthcare environments

Growing evidence of the impact of copper on the fight against healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) has led to the launch of the world’s-first antimicrobial copper stethoscope.

Designed and manufactured by Spirit Medical, the chestpiece and ear tubes are made of brass, an alloy that benefits from copper’s ability to rapidly kill the pathogens that cause potentially life-threatening bugs such as MRSA.

Bearing the Cu+ mark, which denotes products made from an approved antimicrobial copper alloy with efficacy backed by solid science, the device is aimed at busy hospital environments where clinicians move between wards, increasing the risk of infection being spread between patients.

Spirit Medical’s export manager, Steven Yan, said: "We see a market need to provide products that provide a higher level of care to patients, doctors and healthcare workers by employing proven antimicrobial performance."

The use of copper as a bug-busting tool in healthcare environments is gathering pace following the results of a UK trial of antimicrobial copper surfaces at Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital. Led by consultant microbiologist, Professor Tom Elliott, the research team discovered touch surfaces such as taps, door handles, light switches and dressings trolleys that were made from copper and copper alloys benefited from the metal’s natural antimicrobial activity and had greater than 90% less microbial contamination on them compared to the same items on the same ward made from conventional materials. This finding has since been confirmed by results from US and Chilean studies.

In the trial, Professor Elliott judged that the cost of installing antimicrobial copper surfaces on a 20-bed general medical ward was roughly equivalent to the cost associated with treating 1.5 HCAIs. He further pointed out: “For the one-off cost of installing antimicrobial copper surfaces, you get continuous microbial contamination reduction throughout the product’s life, and these materials are durable and long-lasting.”

In further support of rapid payback on an investment in antimicrobial copper, initial data from a Department of Defense-funded US trial has reported a greater than 40% reduction in a patient’s risk of acquiring an HCAI when staying in an intensive care room with just six highly-touched surfaces made from antimicrobial copper.

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