The Washington Post: Copper Critical in Hospitals

Posted on September 25, 2015 by Minerals Make Life

As The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun reports, copper has become Pullman Regional Hospital’s “little helper behind the scenes” and for good reason. A recent study that examined clinical trials from July 2010 to June 2011 shows that copper surfaces “reduced hospital infections by 58 percent” and has medical researchers promoting the mineral’s importance in combatting surface-level bacteria.

Door handles, call buttons, bed rails and IV poles are a few of the frequently touched objects that carry health-care-associated infections, and as such, hospitals like Pullman Regional Hospital and Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center are installing copper technology in these applications. John Lynch, medical director of infection control at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, said, “We’ve known for a long time that copper and other metals are effective in killing microbes, so it wasn’t a great leap to incorporate copper surfaces into hospitals.”

It’s been long known that copper has contributed to medical technologies, but it’s not the only mineral that is key to many of the medical innovations we see today. In addition to copper, silver is an active ingredient in medical products as it prevents bacterial growth and accelerates the healing process. Also, titanium, which is resistant to bacteria, is a critical component is surgical equipment.

Without these minerals and metals, our medical industry would lack many technologies and medications it relies on to save lives. However, current policy prevents easy access to the minerals and metals that support advanced medical innovations, and we need legislators to recognize the importance of these resources and allow greater access to the minerals and metals supporting our medical industry.

Learn more about copper’s presence in hospital technology here.

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