First ‘Healthcare Surface Summit’ Tackles Infections with Fresh Ideas

First ‘Healthcare Surface Summit’ Tackles Infections with Fresh Ideas
10 Nov 2015
Photo: Antimicrobial copper touch surfaces installed at Pullman Regional Hospital in Washington.

By Adam Estelle, Project Engineer for the Copper Development Association

In mid-October, I had the pleasure of participating in the first annual Healthcare Surface Summit (HSS) hosted by the University of Arizona.  The objective of the summit was to bring together thought leaders from industry, research, environmental services, regulators and healthcare practice to develop solutions to control the spread of healthcare-acquired infections transmitted via contaminated surfaces.  About 25 attendees were present in total.

The summit started with “lightning talks” delivered by members of the HSS Advisory Board which included renowned microbiologists and clinicians.  The talks focused on the role of surfaces in causing infections, key issues, hurdles to success and areas where immediate action is needed.  I was also invited to deliver a lightning talk which was an honor considering the level of expertise in the room.

A lively discussion followed that spanned a range of topics including methods to measure contamination on surfaces, the need to empower healthcare professionals charged with disinfecting the environment, the role of regulating agencies, the hierarchy of evidence for evaluating antimicrobial surfaces and more.  A key conclusion was that there is no one solution to controlling surface contamination.  A multi-pronged approach is needed to overcome the inherent limitations of human behavior.  Antimicrobial copper surfaces fit nicely into this discussion as they continuously reduce bacteria in between routine cleanings with no human effort aside from standard cleaning.

By the end of the two-day meeting, three targeted work groups were formed and tasked with developing action plans.  The three work groups are: standards, education and certification and research.  Additional meetings are being scheduled for 2016 to report progress and results.

The ultimate goal is to implement standards, policies and best practices generated by the work groups that will help the healthcare community evaluate available solutions and reduce infections caused by environmental surfaces.

I left the Summit energized and encouraged.  I’m eager to keep up the momentum and contribute to this multidisciplinary group that is trying to tackle a significant threat to public health with fresh perspectives and new ideas.

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