Precious metals could provide valuable protection in hospitals

One of the biggest threats to patient safety in a hospital setting is the risk of infection. People are already sick and their immune systems can be compromised after surgery making the consequences of an infection particularly troubling.

Because of these risks, hospitals and medical staff are required to take certain precautions to prevent the spread of an infection. Unfortunately, these precautions can fail so it is important for hospitals to consistently review their policies and identify new ways to keep patients safe. One option that hospitals in Albuquerque and elsewhere in the U.S. may consider in the future is copper-coated uniforms.

Research into copper-infused materials

Scientists from The University of Manchester worked with Chinese universities to develop a material comprised of "antibacterial copper nanoparticles," as this article explains. This development allowed them to create a durable textile containing copper that can be washed and worn.

The copper-infused material could reduce the rate of infections because copper is a precious metal, and precious metals have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In other words, textiles made with copper fibers could prevent spread of infections caused by common bacteria and viruses like Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli.

Limitations and considerations

This development is certainly exciting, especially as it shows that it is possible to combine copper and cotton or polyester to create something that can actually be worn and washed, while still maintaining antibacterial properties. However, it is still in the early stages and more work needs to be done to develop the technology further and make it cost-effective.

In the meantime, hospitals must rely on current regulations and solutions that prevent or minimize the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. This includes complying with proper sterilization techniques and observing basic hygienic practices. If these efforts fail or are ignored, then patients could pay a devastating price. In these situations, hospitals and hospital workers could be accountable for the consequences.

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