JOHANNESBURG – October 02, 2013 –Complications are a red flag for medical professionals, which at best can be unpleasant, but at their worst can be medically dangerous and occasionally life threatening. In a dental surgical practice, the most common complication encountered is that of wound infection. Splashes resulting from the use of high-speed rotating instruments used for dental treatments have been identified as a potential source of cross-contamination between patients. The formation of microbial aerosols enables particles to spread onto surrounding surfaces where germs can survive for days, even months. Whilst good hand hygiene and regular surface cleaning are key to combatting infection, more can be done, and a specialised maxillofacial and oral surgery practice in Alberton is showcasing a new solution.
The surgery’s pioneer, Dr Anton Scheepers, has been practicing in Alberton for the past 20 years. He previously exclusively operated in the theatre facilities of hospitals, but now does around 50 to 60 percent of his surgical procedures in his dedicated rooms.
Scheepers says: “It goes without saying that any medical professional interested in patient well-being will endeavour to limit infective complications to a minimum. A good infection control protocol will include a variety of measures for avoiding or minimising the chances of cross-contamination. Examples of this include ensuring that your patient is in optimal health before performing surgery, and enforcing strict policies and measures of sterility and asepsis. The latter encompasses such measures as correct hand washing and hand asepsis protocol, the use of barriers such as gloves and protective visors, aseptic measures to reduce the number and virility of microbes, the sterilisation of all instruments and items used during surgery, and the prudent use of antibacterial and antibiotic medication.”
Throughout Scheepers’ surgical practice, all the clinical melamine work surfaces were replaced with copper. The stainless-steel instrument tray surface was also replaced with a copper surface. Scheepers explains his decision: “Besides the improved aesthetic result as a side-benefit, the copper is passively adding value to the already effective infection control measures applied in place in my practice.”
Evert Swanepoel, centre director of the Copper Development Association Africa, says: “I first visited Dr Scheepers in the latter half of 2012 in order to provide him with literature on antimicrobial copper because, for him, hygiene was a crucial factor in his practice. He was highly impressed with the infection fighting properties of copper, and immediately saw the potential for infection control measure in his practice. Once the right choice had been made, the installation work began and the fantastic results are plain to see.”
On the subject of whether the antimicrobial copper installation offers Dr Scheepers’ clients added value, he says: “Absolutely. I will certainly point out these details to my patients. Dozens of people pass through this surgery, and cross-contamination will be greatly reduced because the surfaces are made from antimicrobial copper. My patients will see that this practice takes a proactive approach to their safety.
“Although it is much too early to make any scientific deductions, I can say that the new surfaces seem to be reducing the incidence of wound infection in my practice, and would strongly recommend copper surfaces to all medical and dental professionals. The evidence is there and it is overwhelmingly in favour of copper and its medical applications. We have not only found the copper surfaces to be easy to install, but also easy to maintain.”
Swanepoel concludes: “Copper is inherently antimicrobial with proven rapid, broad spectrum efficacy against pathogens threatening public health in both hospitals and the wider community. Recent clinical trials around the world have confirmed the benefit of deploying touch surfaces made from antimicrobial copper to reduce microbial contamination and lower the risk of acquiring infections, as well as improving patient outcomes and saving costs. With antimicrobial surfaces, disease causing pathogens such as MRSA, C. difficile, Influenza A (H1N1) and norovirus are rapidly and continuously eliminated, as research has shown that antimicrobial copper surfaces harbour 95 to 99 percent less microbial contamination than equivalent non-copper surfaces.”
About the Copper Development Association Africa
The Copper Development Association Africa (CDA Africa) has represented the local copper industry in southern Africa since 1962 and now promotes copper usage throughout Africa. The CDA Africa’s head office is based in Johannesburg and, on behalf of its members, the organisation is committed to promoting and expanding the use of copper and copper alloys throughout Africa.