According to a new study from the American Journal of Infection Control, a grave danger is posed by mobile phone usage in hospitals, and not simply because of concerns that radio signals will cause hospital equipment to malfunction.
Although mobile technologies are vastly improving the treatment and quality of life for patients around the world on a rapidly expanding basis, mobile devices may also be responsible for thousands of illnesses.
Unlike our hands, which are easily sterilized using hand-sanitizer made available readily across most hospitals and medical facilities, our mobile phones are exponentially more cumbersome to clean. What’s more, we rarely make an effort to sanitize them. And, as a result, these devices are beginning to carry a variety of bacteria, many of which are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Mobile devices carried by patients and visitors are twice as likely to be infected with bacteria than those of medical workers and hospital staff. Serious pathogens – including MRSA – are also even likely to be found on patient handsets.
Based on the findings by the Department of Medical Microbiology at Inonu University in Turkey, harmful bacteria was uncovered on 39.6% of patient phones. Several of the phones in question were found to have antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
“The types of bacteria that were found on the patients’ phones and their resistance patterns were very worrisome,” the report revealed. “Some investigators have reported that cell phones of medical personnel may be a potential source of bacterial pathogens in the hospital setting.”
Every year in the US, 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections lead to an estimated 100,000 deaths.