Mobile Phones Carry Bacteria When Used in Hospitals: American Journal of Infection Control

Not only patients, even their mobile phones are infected with bacteria, according to a recent study. Yes, it sounds strange, but it is a fact. As per the Cross Sectional study, which was published in June edition of American Journal of Infection Control, mobile phones of hospital patients and their visitors were twice as likely to contain potentially dangerous bacteria than the mobile phones of healthcare workers. They harbour a range of microbes, which might be a super bug MRSA or some throat-infection-causing bacteria.

The theme of the research..

The study was conducted with a view to determine whether mobile phones of the people inside the hospitals are carrying any kind of dangerous bacteria which is likely to cause further infections. Researchers from the Department of Medical Microbiology at Inonu University in Turkey collected swab samples from the mobile phones (the keypad, microphone and ear piece). A total of 200 mobile phones were diagnosed for the study, of which 67 belonged to medical employees or the health care workers and 133 mobiles are of the patients, patient’s companions and visitors.

The report says..

The study found that 39.6 percent of the mobile phones of the patient group, 20.6 percent of the healthcare workers’ phones tested positive for the pathogens. Further, it was seen that among the 200 mobile phones, seven phones used by the patients cultured multi drug resistant pathogens like Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, extended-spectrum B Lactamase producing Escherichia coli, Klebsiella species, high level amino glycoside resistant Enterococcus species, and Carabepenem resistant Acinetobacter Baumanii. The interesting fact was that no health care worker’s phone tested positive for the above pathogens, which indirectly mean that they were contained only on the mobiles of patients and their associates.

This kind of hospital acquired infections caused from mobile phones are infecting more that 25% patients in the hospitals who are already admitted. Even in the hospitals of developed countries like U.S., they cause 1.7 million infections per year and are associated with approximately 100,000 deaths.

Researchers suggest…

The authors of the study state that, the types of bacteria which were found on the patients’ mobile phones and their resistance patterns were very worrisome. They also suggested that, since the patients and their companions, the visitors have an increased risk of pathogen colonization than that of the healthcare workers, specific infection control measures should be taken to avoid this threat.

Finally, the authors have concluded that low socioeconomic status of the patients and low awareness about the hospital hygiene as the possible reasons for the growth of multi drug resistant pathogens on their mobile phones. Now on, the medical personnel and infection control professionals must consider even the mobile phones as a potential source of infection.

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