Mobile technology is everywhere, and increasingly so in hospital and medical office settings. Not only are more and more patients on their cell phones and tablets throughout their visits, but doctors, nurses, and medical staff are also using mobile devices for both personal and work reasons.

This technology can aid in emotional healing (keeping the patient’s mind active) and may even play a role in diagnosing diseases or accurately filing patient data. But studies have consistently shown that mobile devices may be responsible for the significant increase in nosocomial infections in recent years, as these devices can quickly become a hotbed of bacteria, including MRSA, K. pneumonia, E.coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staph Aureus, and more.

Connection Between Mobile Technology and Nosocomial Infections

Ulger, Fatma, et al. "Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens?" Annals of clinical microbiology and antimicrobials 8.1 (2009): 7.

In this study, the phones of 200 healthcare workers were tested for contamination. They found that 94% of mobile phones had some degree of bacterial contamination, 31% included gram negative bacteria, and over half (52%) of mobile phones had evidence of staph, including 37% that were methicillin resistant (MRSA). This data strongly indicated that mobile phones may be a strong source of nosocomial infections.

Karabay, Oguz, Esra Koçoglu, and Mustafa Tahtaci. "The role of mobile phones in the spread of bacteria associated with nosocomial infections." J Infect Dev Ctries 1.1 (2007): 72-3.

In this study, 111 of 122 cell phones tested had some type of bacterial contamination. 9% of the samples were contaminated with bacteria known for nosocomial infections with several contaminated with E.Coli and the life threatening E. faecalis. Keep in mind that this study was conducted before the smartphone – which has increased the frequency of cell phone use dramatically.

Tambekar, D. H., et al. "Nosocomial hazards of doctor’s mobile phones in hospitals." J Med Sci 8.1 (2008): 73-6.

Similar to the previous article, this research paper was published when Smartphones were only recently growing in popularity, and yet it still found a surprisingly high number of mobile phones contaminated with dangerous bacteria, including 20% with Staph, 11% with E.Coli, 5% with Salmonella, and several others.

Shakir, Irshad A., et al. "Investigation of Cell Phones as a Potential Source of Bacterial Contamination in the Operating Room." The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery 97.3 (2015): 225-231.

In a more recent research paper examining the role of cell phones in hospital acquired infections in operating rooms, the cell phones of surgeons were tested for not only bacterial contamination, but also the likelihood of continued contamination/recontamination. They found that 83% of mobile phones had bacterial contamination, and one week after cleaning, 73% were re-contaminated. This paper indicates the importance of regular, disposable bacterial prevention, like the SmartSleeves system.

Khan, Amber, et al. "Use of portable electronic devices in a hospital setting and their potential for bacterial colonization." American journal of infection control 43.3 (2015): 286-288.

Finally, another study that focused on the frequency of microbial contamination on cell phones and tablet computers found 23% with dangerous gram negative bacteria, as well as contamination on 66% of all devices used in operating rooms – compared to 16% of devices used outside the operating room (indicating that the spread of bacteria is both more common to those that bring devices into these rooms, in addition to greater risk for the patient).

Early Conclusions Based on Mobile Device Studies

These are only a few of the many studies that confirm that bacterial contamination is common on portable devices in medical settings. Dozens of studies have been released in the last 10 years, including many that confirmed mobile phone connection to risk of contamination before mobile phones were used as often as they are today – with many more studies showing an increase in bacterial buildup since.

The data implies that it is important for medical staff to find a way to protect their cell phones from bacterial contamination. SmartSleeves and its antimicrobial film may be the solution that your hospital, doctor’s office, dental office or surgery center may need to offer better protection. Contact us today to find out more.