A recent four-year trial has shown that using it on such frequently touched hospital items as bed rails, IV poles, tray tables and nurse call buttons reduces infection rates by more than 40%.
With hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, such a wonder material could have a profound impact on the health care industry.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that each year HAIs kill more than 100,000 people and inflict costs of $45 billion. Nearly one out of every 20 patients in U.S. hospitals acquires an HAI.
So what is this miraculous material? Is it a technological breakthrough born of years of experimentation and hard work by hundreds of scientists toiling in hidden labs?
In fact, you probably have some in your pocket right now - this magic material is none other than ordinary copper, although its advocates prefer the term "antimicrobial copper."