This is a huge issue in the United States. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the Health and Human Services Department, an estimated 1 in 25 patients who stay at hospitals, contract infections. The severity of the infection, which could range from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, to pneumonia, will vary depending on the nature of the infection. In the most serious situations they could lead to death.
According to a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the substance bed rails are made of could have an impact on the transmission of germs in a hospital setting. Specifically, making bed rails out of copper could reduce the number of infections that are contracted by patients in the hospital. The study found that these infections occurred only 3.4 percent of the time in the rooms where copper bedrails were used as opposed to those without, in which such infections were contracted 8.1 percent of the time.
The use of copper, which kills viruses, yeasts and bacteria on contact, has been employed as far back as 2600-2000 B.C. when Egyptians used it t sterilize drinking water and chest wounds. In addition to use on bed rails, it could be used in other materials found at hospitals such as mattress covers, via a copper additive, night tables, food tables and IV poles.
Whether the use of copper to reduce the transmission of infection in hospitals will catch on, remains to be seen. In the meantime, those who have been harmed via the contraction of this type of infection as a result of treatment that is below the acceptable standard of care, may file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Source: National Public Radio, “A Copper Bedrail Could Cut Back On Infections For Hospital Patients,” Hannah Bloch, Dec. 15, 2014