Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) continue to burden patients and healthcare systems worldwide. Current environmental surveillance programs rely on culture-based methods to detect pathogens and while useful for some target organisms, they are less sensitive than molecular methods and do not reflect the true microbial diversity in the hospital environment.
This pilot project evaluated the use of copper-nickel and titanium dioxide-coated surfaces, along with other engineering approaches, in patient rooms to reduce the bacterial load, with the ultimate goal of reducing clinical complications and the economic burden associated with HAI for patients.
Samples were collected weekly from patients in both re-engineered and standard rooms, their health care workers, and the environment for up to 8 weeks. Samples were sequenced and analyzed, subject to both traditional microbiological cultures and genomic analysis. High sampling compliance rates for all three sample groups were successfully achieved.
Genomic results from BC Centre for Disease Control’s Public Health Laboratory demonstrated significantly lower bacterial and protein loads in re-engineered rooms, and fewer types of bacteria compared to the non-engineering rooms. They also found patient’s microbiome is similar to their environment’s microbiome, suggesting that the patients are susceptible to pick up microorganisms in their immediate environment; while the composition of samples from health care workers were distinct from both environment and patient.
This pilot study also confirmed the feasibility of a multi-centre randomized control study to evaluate self-disinfecting surfaces in this complex population. As an extension of this pilot study, a four-hospital evaluation of different copper formulations funded by Teck Resources is currently underway.