Computers, tablets and cell phones are part of the day to day operations in all healthcare facilities. A large percentage of healthcare workers (HCW) are dependent on mobile devices to communicate, transcribe and document. Tablets, pads and phones are carried into patients rooms. Cell phones are taken everywhere (even the bathroom). That factor along with the heat generated contribute to harboring bacteria.
In an article in Occupational Health & Safety magazine, Singh stated that 71% of HCWs mobile devices cultured showed microbial growth and only 12% of HCWs used disinfectants to wipe their phones. Another significant statistic is 92% of patients utilize mobile phones during their inpatient stay. Findings also suggest that mobile devices used by patients, their families and visitors represent a high risk of nosocomial pathogen colonization. Since phones are handled frequently and held close to the face, the chance of spreading or receiving a dangerous microorganism is great.
It is very important that healthcare workers be more conscience of where they are using their mobile devices and help raise awareness about the risk of spreading infections from something that is an extension of their professional and social life. Disinfection and/or an antimicrobial coating protection for mobile devices should be part of healthcare facilities infection control protocol. I am confident we will see more research in the near future that validates why sanitizing all devices used in healthcare settings is critical to reducing the spread of infection.