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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2015;12(10):D232-5. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2015.1060330.

Mobile Phones as a Potential Vehicle of Infection in a Hospital Setting.

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a Launceston Clinical School University of Tasmania , Tasmania , Australia.


The objective of this article is to investigate the potential role of mobile phones as a reservoir for bacterial colonization and the risk factors for bacterial colonization in a hospital setting. We screened 226 staff members at a regional Australian hospital (146 doctors and 80 medical students) between January 2013 and March 2014. The main outcomes of interest were the types of microorganisms and the amount of contamination of the mobile phones. This study found a high level of bacterial contamination (n = 168/226, 74%) on the mobile phones of staff members in a tertiary hospital, with similar organisms isolated from the staff member's dominant hand and mobile phones. While most of the isolated organisms were normal skin flora, a small percentage were potentially pathogenic (n = 12/226, 5%). Being a junior medical staff was found to be a risk factor for heavy microbial growth (OR 4.00, 95% CI 1.54, 10.37). Only 31% (70/226) of our participants reported cleaning their phones routinely, and only 21% (47/226) reported using alcohol containing wipes on their phones. This study demonstrates that mobile phones are potentially vehicles for pathogenic bacteria in a hospital setting. Only a minority of our participants reported cleaning their phones routinely. Disinfection guidelines utilizing alcohol wipes should be developed and implemented.


hospital; infection; mobile phones; vehicle

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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