EPA Reveals That Copper Can Be Used to Combat Hospital Germs

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Copper producers have taken advantage of a new premise that the base metal is actually good for your health. Copper is used in a wide variety of tasks from construction to electrical wiring, but now it has also been found to have antimicrobial properties that kill 99.9% of germs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), copper can kill bacteria on its surface within two hours.

Often called "Dr. Copper" for other reasons, this metal may be a newly discovered boon for hospitals and other health facilities.

Fighting Germs in Hospitals.

Because of copper’s antimicrobial properties, it has the possibility of becoming a powerful weapon  used in healthcare facilities to combat the spread of germs and infections. More than 150 healthcare professionals have already installed copper alloy surfaces from copper carts to sinks and door knobs. Copper kills bacteria by draining electrons, which provide energy and by pumping copper ions into the cell. This destroys the cell membrane, DNA and proteins, causing the cell to die.

Although manufacturing hardware and appliances from copper used to be expensive, copper prices have recently fallen.  This is a big factor leading to more health care facilities to consider converting to copper to reduce infections. Not everyone is convinced of the effectiveness of copper in preventing the transmittal of germs, but some in the healthcare industry hope that these new products will create a new avenue for growth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, about one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals had at least one healthcare related infection. While not all are convinced that the introduction of copper products will make a positive impact and are waiting for more evidence, antimicrobial copper continues to gradually make its way into the healthcare industry.  We also know that studies by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) and more recently, have shown that facility-based infections are one of the biggest causes of patient morbidity and mortality.

Get Rid of the Bad Penny; Convert Hospitals, Nursing Homes and other Health Facilities to Copper.

Copper has traditionally been a lot more expensive than most metals used for manufacturing hardware, fittings, appliances and furnishings.  Our government has persisted for decades in wasting money on the copper penny with every penny actually costing 1.7 cents to manufacture (in 2014);  this has been largely because of a powerful copper lobby in Congress.  This may be a chance for Congress and the executive branch to invoke some efficiency in government and finally get rid of the costly penny once and for all.  In its place, the government can mandate through legislation and federal regulations, the extensive use of copper in all hospitals and health facilities.  Copper, door handles, copper faucets and valves, copper carts, copper bed trays, copper bed frames and rails.  This should more than make up for the loss of pennies in coinage each year, satisfy the copper lobbiests, and also, for every penny not made, the government saves .7 cents.  This .7 cents for every penny not made could be used to subsidize the health industry in its conversion to copper.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, representation in research fraud investigations, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Yang, Stephanie. “Hospital Germs? Call Dr. Copper.” The Wall Street Journal. (August 5, 2016) Print.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Antimicrobial copper, fighting germs and infections in hospitals, use of copper in healthcare industry, combating healthcare related infections, legal representation for healthcare facilities, legal counsel for healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities defense attorney, The Health Law Firm

"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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