Antimicrobial copper touch surfaces pay for themselves in less than 12 months

Published: 8-Nov-2012

According to cost-benefit model developed by York Health Economics Consortium

Antimicrobial copper touch surfaces installed in intensive care units (ICUs) pay for themselves in less than a year, according to a cost-benefit model developed by the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) and commissioned by the International Copper Association. This is due to the resulting reduction in surface bioburden and hence healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).

Clinical trial results from ICUs have shown that the limited placement of antimicrobial copper surfaces resulted in a significant and continuous reduction in bacterial burden, with proposed hygiene standard levels of 2.5 aerobic colony forming units/cm2 achieved during routine clinical care. Furthermore, the lower microbial burden on the six copper objects resulted in a >40% decrease in the incidence of HCAIs, or colonisation by MRSA and VRE.

The model developed by YHEC, a global leader in healthcare-associated modelling, used the results of this study as a basis for reductions in HCAIs achievable following a copper intervention. The cost-benefit model is populated with referenced datasets for rates and costs of HCAIs, cost of copper components and similar components without antimicrobial efficacy. It also has the option for users to enter their own local data for customised calculations.

Mark Tur, Antimicrobial Copper Technical Consultant for the Copper Development Association, said: “The copper intervention is an engineering one: it's different from other measures being deployed to tackle HCAIs, like new procedures or consumables. It requires capital spend, but then delivers savings to care budgets.

“We're often asked about the cost of installing antimicrobial copper. The real question is about the value of copper, not the cost. This model will help infection control staff, who accept the science, to convince their CEOs to look at implementing antimicrobial copper for any planned extensions or refurbishments. Payback in less than one year makes this an intervention that warrants their attention.”

The payback times demonstrated by the model support the findings of Professor Tom Elliott, Consultant Microbiologist at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and leader of the UK clinical trial of antimicrobial copper.

“For the one-off cost of installing antimicrobial copper surfaces, you get continuous microbial contamination reduction throughout the products' life, and these materials are durable and long-lasting. The cost for a 20-bed medical ward was equivalent to the cost of just 1.5 infections,” he said.

The final report and model are due for completion later this year, but an advance document detailing a worked example is available online.

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