BACKGROUND: Healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) cause substantial morbidity and mortality. Copper appears to have strong antimicrobial properties under laboratory conditions.
AIM: We conducted a systematic review to examine the potential effect of copper treating of commonly touched surfaces in healthcare facilities.
METHODS: We included controlled trials comparing the effect of copper-treated surfaces (furniture or bed linens) in hospital rooms versus standard rooms on hospital acquired infections (HAIs). Two reviewers independently screened retrieved articles, extracted data, and assessed the risk of bias of included studies. The primary outcome was the occurrence of healthcare acquired infections.
FINDINGS: We screened 638 records; 7 studies comprising 12362 patients were included. From risk of bias assessment, all included studies were judged to be at high risk in ≥2 of the 7 domains of bias. All 7 included studies reported the effect of various copper-treated surfaces on HAIs. Overall, we found low quality evidence of a potential clinical importance that copper-treated hard surfaces and/or bed linens and clothes reduced healthcare acquired infections by 27% (RR 0.73; 95% CI 0.57 to 0.94; I2 = 44%, p-value = 0.01).
CONCLUSION: Given the clinical and economic costs of healthcare acquired infections, the potentially protective effect of copper-treated surfaces appears important. However, the current evidence is insufficient to make a strong positive recommendation. However, it would appear worthwhile and urgent to conduct larger scale publicly funded clinical trials of the impact of copper coating.