Cell Phones Present Significant Risk of Cross-Contamination; Staff Education Needed

September 7, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


Although the use of cell phones in clinical areas by healthcare workers is most frequently thought of as posing a risk to patient privacy, a study published in the September 2012 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene concludes that the devices should be banned because of the infection risk they represent. The study, which evaluated the microbial contamination of 183 mobile phones owned by healthcare workers at a secondary referral hospital in July 2010, isolated a total of 179 culture-positive specimens. The phones tested were taken from three groups of workers: nurses, laboratory workers, and other healthcare staff. Among other pathogens, the researchers identified 17 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) specimens and 20 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli specimens, which can cause nosocomial infections. No statistical difference was observed in the recovery of MRSA and ESBL-producing E. coli between the different types of healthcare workers; however, a significant difference was detected in the isolation of ESBL-producing *E.

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