Copper: The All-Natural Hippie Approach to Preventing HAIs
Okay, I have a confession to make. I’m kind of a hippie. I had organic granola for breakfast this morning, choosing a veggie dog over a hot dog makes me feel like I’m saving Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, and it pains me a little bit to throw away a metal can instead of recycling it. I like shopping in thrift stores, the documentary Food, Inc. scarred me for life, and I spend a good half hour in the shampoo aisle checking the ingredients to make sure there’s no silicone or sulfate inside that’s going to destroy my hair.
Now, before I go any further I better stop and reassure those of you who maybe skipped your morning coffee and are getting really confused. THIS IS STILL THE MIDBROOK MEDICAL INFECTION PREVENTION BLOG. We haven’t transformed into the EPA overnight. I have a point, and I’m getting to it, I promise.
The reason you might be confused is because when most people picture a hippie they think of the things related to what I just mentioned: all-organic, grow your own vegetables, corporate is evil, Woodstock, the answer is blowing in the wind, etc. They probably don’t picture a nurse wearing scrubs, helping a patient walk to the bathroom after surgery. They probably don’t picture a doctor. They probably don’t picture a hospital.
But nurses can eat organic granola. Doctors can listen to Bob Dylan. So if the people of the medical world can overlap with the people of the hippie world, why can’t that overlap continue right into the actual healthcare facilities in the fight against HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Infections)?
In this case, the overlap I’m talking about is antimicrobial copper (this is the point I was talking about earlier, so you might want to start paying attention). And here’s how the overlap works…
On one side we have the medical world, fighting HAIs left and right. Superbugs are growing in number and strength, and sometimes it seems no matter how many times they wash their hands or how many new drugs they come up with, doctors and nurses are always left two steps behind.
On the other side we have our environmental, peace-loving world. Stay away from man-made toxins, they might cause more problems than they fix. Stick with the all-natural approach. Use your environment, but don’t abuse it.
And right smack dab in the middle, overlapping both worlds, we have antimicrobial copper.
Copper keeps the medical world happy because of its inherent antimicrobial properties, meaning it kills bacteria without even trying. Copper surfaces destroy 99.9% of bacteria within 2 hours. Obviously it won’t completely eliminate HAIs on its own, but it helps healthcare workers stand a fighting chance in the never-ending battle against infections.
And copper keeps the hippies like me happy because of the peaceful way it goes about its bacteria-killing ways. First of all, it’s a naturally occurring substance, so there are no crazy mutations or Sci-Fi horror stories I need to worry about. Second, in addition to copper being found naturally since the earth began, its antimicrobial properties have been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians, who used copper vessels to keep their drinking water safe. And, as far as I know, they didn’t suffer any side effects.
I love it when we’re trying to reach a goal and we can take two seemingly opposite groups of people and find a solution that appeals to both. It shows that an all-hands-on-deck approach really does work when it comes to HAIs, and that when it comes to infection prevention, too many cooks can’t spoil the broth. That may have been two too many metaphors for some of you, but I think you get what I’m saying. In this case, the antimicrobial copper solution may not have been “blowing in the wind”, but I still think Bob Dylan would approve.