Copper Clinical Trial

As a healthcare industry leader focused on innovation, Sentara Healthcare actively evaluates and pursues new technologies that have the potential to transform care for our patients. We are particularly interested in those products or services that can extend the benefits of our already rigorous quality and patient safety initiatives.

One example of this began in 2014 when Sentara embarked on the world’s largest clinical trial to study whether copper-infused linens and surfaces impact the development of infections, and thus the use of antibiotics, in a healthcare setting. 

Why Copper?

Copper is an essential nutrient in the human body and plays an important role in the healthy function of many systems and organs within the body, including the nervous and immune systems, and the heart, brain and skin. It has been used for health, wellness and antimicrobial purposes for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Hindus. In fact, copper-enhanced materials have been shown to have antimicrobial properties and are effective in killing 99.9% of bacteria in fewer than two hours, but that result has yet to be proven in a healthcare setting.

As a result, Sentara partnered with Cupron®, Inc. and EOS Surfaces, both of whom have experience embedding copper oxide into a variety of consumer products including fabrics and hard surfaces where it has been shown to be non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-irritating to the skin and is FDA registered. Additionally, EOS’ preventive biocidal surfaces are the only synthetic hard surface EPA-registered for public-health claims against bacteria* contamination.

About the Study

In March 2014, Sentara initially installed copper-infused textiles and surfaces for studies at two Sentara facilities: in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s ICU and in the new patient tower under construction at Sentara Leigh Hospital.

The evaluation at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital involves the implementation of copper-infused materials including patient gowns, linens and towels in 16 ICU patient rooms.

A more extensive evaluation is taking place at Sentara Leigh Hospital in its new 129-bed East Tower. In addition to patient gowns, linens and towels, the copper oxide elements are also part of hard surfaces like desks, tables and sinks in all patient rooms.

While our studies at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Leigh Hospital are not complete and data is still being gathered for comparison, we decided to expand our research and introduced copper-infused linens into all patient rooms at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in November 2014.

The investigation once again will expand in 2015 when the Sentara Leigh Hospital West Tower opens in April completely outfitted with copper-infused materials from Cupron and EOS Surfaces, including countertops, over-the-bed tables, bed rails and textiles ranging from bed linens to patients gowns. The opening of the West Tower will result in all 250 of the hospital’s patient rooms serving as copper-infused test studies.

The various studies will compare the impact of copper-infused materials on hospital acquired infections (HAIs) and antibiotic usage and measure whether these copper-infused materials improve the results of our already rigorous patient-safety and infection control measures. While Sentara will evaluate the data from all three facilities, allowing us to compare current and future infection and antibiotic prescription rates, the study at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital formally was approved by the Institutional Review Board for Eastern Virginia Medical School.

It is also important to note that the use of Cupron linens and other copper-infused materials are a supplemental layer of protection and not a substitute for standard infection control practices. Sentara employees continue to follow all current infection control practices, including cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and textiles. Additionally, all data will be analyzed as anonymous data to protect the privacy of Sentara patients.

For more information:

For more information on this study or to inquire about partnering with 3rd Core, email

*Testing demonstrates effective antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538), Enterobacter aerogenes (ATCC 13048), Methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA-ATCC 33592), Escherichia coli O157:H7 (ATCC 35150) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 15442).