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Research will study the germ-fighting capabilities of copper

Story Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 16:55:00 EDT

The world’s largest clinical trial of its kind, now underway, will test the effectiveness of copper-infused hard surfaces and linens in preventing hospital-acquired infections.

EVMS, in partnership with Sentara Healthcare, is conducting a year-long investigation at two clinical sites; the 129-bed East Tower at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and 16 ICU beds at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

The ionized copper in the test materials – patient gowns, bed linens and towels - is supplied by Richmond, Va.-based Cupron®, which is known for copper-infused fabrics, and Norfolk, Va.-based EOS Surfaces, which produces the countertops, over-the-bed tables and side rails used in the new East Tower.

“We have deployed as many human processes as we can to combat hospital-acquired infections,” said Gene Burke, MD, vice president and executive medical director for Clinical Effectiveness with Sentara Healthcare. “We hope these copper-enhanced products will change the game by killing bacteria around the clock.”

Copper-enhanced socks, produced by Cupron®, gained fame during the 63-day ordeal of Chilean miners trapped underground by helping to heal rampant foot infections while they awaited rescue in a wet environment. The EOS® surfaces being used in the trial are clinically proven to kill 99.9% of infection-causing bacteria within two hours of contact.

"Infections in the hospital, especially the intensive care units, remain a major problem," said Jerry L. Nadler, MD, Vice Dean for Research at EVMS and Chair of Internal Medicine. "We are excited about the potential for this innovative approach to reduce infections and the use of antibiotics. Even an incremental decline in infections will be tremendously beneficial to the patient and the Health System."

Shivanjali Shankaran, MD, an infectious disease expert and EVMS Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, is overseeing the linen research. Paul E. Marik, MD, Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care and EVMS Professor of Internal Medicine, is lead consultant for the study at Sentara Leigh Hospital.

"We appreciate Dr. Shankaran and Dr. Marik for their participation and leadership," Dr. Nadler said. "This represents another example of a successful partnership between EVMS and Sentara Healthcare.”

 “We are open to the findings,” said Gene Burke, MD, of Sentara. “EVMS and Sentara will compile the data so other health systems can decide whether this investment will pay off for them in safer hospitals and better outcomes.”