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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2016 Nov;37(11):1367-1373. Epub 2016 Sep 9.

Healthcare Personnel Attire and Devices as Fomites: A Systematic Review.

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1Division of Hospital Medicine,University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health,Madison,Wisconsin.
2Ebling Library,University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health,Madison,Wisconsin.
3Division of Infectious Disease,University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health,Madison,Wisconsin.


BACKGROUND Transmission of pathogens within the hospital environment remains a hazard for hospitalized patients. Healthcare personnel clothing and devices carried by them may harbor pathogens and contribute to the risk of pathogen transmission. OBJECTIVE To examine bacterial contamination of healthcare personnel attire and commonly used devices. METHODS Systematic review. RESULTS Of 1,175 studies screened, 72 individual studies assessed contamination of a variety of items, including white coats, neckties, stethoscopes, and mobile electronic devices, with varied pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus, gram-negative rods, and enterococci. Contamination rates varied significantly across studies and by device but in general ranged from 0 to 32% for methicillin-resistant S. aureus and gram-negative rods. Enterococcus was a less common contaminant. Few studies explicitly evaluated for the presence of Clostridium difficile. Sampling and microbiologic techniques varied significantly across studies. Four studies evaluated for possible connection between healthcare personnel contaminants and clinical isolates with no unequivocally direct link identified. CONCLUSIONS Further studies to explore the relationship between healthcare personnel attire and devices and clinical infection are needed. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2016;1-7.

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