A private hospital in Ireland has become the first in the world to adopt a new policy for door handles in order to improve hygiene.
St Francis Private Hospital and its associated nursing home St Clair's in Mullingar, County Westmeath, have adopted a policy ensuring that all door handles have a copper surface.
The decision was taken after trials at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, showed that copper surfaces on things like door handles, toilet seats and taps, can reduce microbial contamination by 90-100 per cent.
Noleen Sheridan, the general manager of the hospital, commented: "As it is estimated that 80 per cent of infections are spread by touch, keeping surfaces like door handles as germ free as possible will impact on the spread of infection.
"Our decision to specify antimicrobial copper products is based on this conviction, and the compelling evidence from the Selly Oak clinical trial."
Improving hygiene is hospitals can reduce the risk of diseases like MRSA which was involved in three in every thousand deaths in the UK between 2004 and 2008.
Private hospital news : 13 January 2010