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Vetobac were contacted to identify the key touch surfaces in a trial ward in the Bostonian wing of the Boston Pilgrim Hospital Lincolnshire UK. Working closely with Mr Michael Oko, an ENT surgeon with special expertise in sleeping disorders, the ward is being fitted out with copper alloy touch surfaces with a view to rolling the program out through other areas of the hospital.

In a new patient safety initiative led by an Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant at Lincolnshire’s Pilgrim Hospital, the inherent antimicrobial efficacy of VETOBAC copper alloys was employed to address the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals.

The range of items installed is the widest yet in the UK and includes taps, door furniture, grab rails, hand rails, over-bed table, IV pole, cabinet handles, the arms of the visitor’s chair, light switches and electrical sockets.

Michael Oko – ENT Consultant and Clinical Lead, and Department of Health Advisor on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – championed the replacement of key high-touch surfaces with antimicrobial copper equivalents with the intention of replacing more items and roll out the copper upgrade throughout the hospital.

‘Replacing the surfaces most often touched by staff, patients and visitors with antimicrobial copper equivalents will help reduce the risk of infections spreading via these surfaces,’ Mr Oko says. ‘It can be used as an adjunct to other infection control measures – such as regular hand washing and surface cleaning and disinfecting – to improve patient safety.

‘Reducing the rate of infections means a substantial reduction in a patient’s length of stay, a reduction in their mortality risk and a reduction in overall treatment costs. Antimicrobial copper surfaces make sense from a patient safety point of view as well as a financial one.’

‘In any clinical environment, certain surfaces will be touched maybe hundreds of times, by dozens of people, every day,’ explains Andrew Cross of ACT Surfaces Ltd, who worked alongside VETOBAC on this project.  ‘These are the key touch surfaces to identify as they will offer the most benefit when replaced with antimicrobial copper equivalents.

‘Part of the service we offer is working with the hospital infection control team to identify those ‘problem’ touch surfaces in a given facility which, when upgraded to antimicrobial copper, will reduce the infection risk to patients and yield the best clinical savings.

‘Payback or return on investment will be quickest when items are upgraded to copper during new-build, or scheduled refurbishment or renovation, but with The Bostonian, the solid scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy and cost-effectiveness is so compelling that the client felt they had to act immediately.

’With their established project-management skills and in-house capability to manufacture bespoke one-off items to aid successful completion of the whole project, VETOBAC completed the upgrade rapidly and minimised room ‘downtime’. Initial ATP tests using by the hospital’s Infection Control team were encouraging, with a reduction in bacterial and organic load on touch surfaces from 30.3 to 3.7.

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