Innovations in Healthcare

New Infection-Control Weapons Emerge


New technology that infuses a copper oxide into hard surfaces or fabrics in order to boost infection control could soon become a major weapon in hospitals, according to the CEOs of two Virginia companies now developing such technologies.

Cupron (, based in Richmond, Va., provides the infusion of a proprietary copper oxide compound into such hard surfaces as flooring, countertops, building components, and furniture, and into fabrics such as gowns, uniforms, and linens, says company chairman Paul Rocheleau. Cupron is partnering with EOS Surfaces (, based in Portsmouth, Va., a developer of solid countertop surfaces, which company president Ken Trinder says are thicker than comparable building products.

Together, the companies are seeking approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to market these products with registrations for their public health claims of preventing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The products recently were tested against Staphylococcus and Enterobacter bacteria, with 99.9% effectiveness in killing organisms, Rocheleau says.

“It is well known that copper has the ability to kill pathogens,” he adds. “What’s new are the methods to deliver that technology.”

He calls the copper-ion technology an additional layer of infection control, meant not to supplant other hospital protocols but to become part of overall risk-management programs to control HAIs. Other Cupron products, such as anti-odor footwear, are already on the market, but EOS aims to market the hard-surface products to health facilities starting in the second half of this year. “We’re also well advanced on the first of several clinical studies of the impact of Cupron-infused textiles and hard surfaces on infection rates,” Rocheleau says.

Meanwhile, a new “intelligent handwash monitoring system” to promote hand hygiene compliance in order to prevent HAIs that is now being tested in the United Kingdom by the global thermal technology company Irisys ( was presented at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology 2012 conference in June in San Antonio.

It uses non-intrusive therapy sensors deployed throughout healthcare facilities to detect people’s movements and determine accurate counts of handwashing opportunities, which are then compared to actual handwashing (or sanitizing gel) occurrences. The intention is to promote greater compliance with infection-preventing hand hygiene without violating personal privacy, such as through the use of video surveillance.

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