Microbial burden associated with near-patient touch surfaces results in a greater risk of health care-associated infections (HAIs). Acute care beds may be a critical fomite, as traditional plastic surfaces harbor the highest concentrations of bacteria associated with high-touch surfaces in a hospital room’s patient zone. Five high-touch intensive care unit (ICU) bed surfaces encountered by patients, health care workers, and visitors were monitored by routine culture to assess the effect U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)-registered antimicrobial copper materials have on the microbial burden. Despite both daily and discharge cleaning and disinfection, each control bed’s plastic surfaces exceeded bacterial concentrations recommended subsequent to terminal cleaning and disinfection (TC&D) of 2.5 aerobic CFU/cm2. Beds with self-disinfecting (copper) surfaces harbored significantly fewer bacteria throughout the patient stay than control beds, at levels below those considered to increase the likelihood of HAIs. With adherence to routine daily and terminal cleaning regimes throughout the study, the copper alloy surfaces neither tarnished nor required additional cleaning or special maintenance. Beds encapsulated with U.S. EPA-registered antimicrobial copper materials were found to sustain the microbial burden below the TC&D risk threshold levels throughout the patient stay, suggesting that outfitting acute care beds with such materials may be an important supplement to controlling the concentration of infectious agents and thereby potentially reducing the overall HAI risk.


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Citation Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Fairey SE, Howard J, Mohr D, Craig S. 2020. Selfdisinfecting copper beds sustain terminal cleaning and disinfection effects throughout patient care. Appl Environ Microbiol 86:e01886-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01886-19.

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