Mobile Phone Hygiene Standards Are Not Necessary

By Sharon Smith
Thursday, 16 July, 2015

Yesterday we reported on the study performed in an Australian hospital showing healthcare workers not employing infection control practices when handling mobile phones - potential leading to the spread of bacteria.
The study in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that 95% of phones were colonised with bacteria such as skin flora, but only 5% contained pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and coliforms.
Among participants who were interviewed over their cleaning regime, only only 21% used alcohol wipes and one-third routinely clean their phone at all.
The study was carried out because it was noticed that 'there were no mobile phone hygiene guidelines' in the hospital. Let's face it: most people use mobile phones in the workplace these days, either for work or personal reasons.
But do we really need separate hygiene guidelines for mobile phones when we have clear hand hygiene standards? 
The Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care, who oversees the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards, issued this statement:
“Mobile phones are just one of many items in the healthcare environment that can carry bacteria. Other examples include computer keyboards and staff lanyards. Hand hygiene is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of any bacteria in any healthcare setting."
"The first of the ‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ requires all clinicians to perform hand hygiene before touching a patient. If a clinician touches a mobile device or another item during a consultation, they need to perform hand hygiene before they touch the patient again."
"Under the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, hospitals and health service organisations are required to implement systems and processes to meet the requirements of the National Hand Hygiene Initiative.”
Professor John Turnidge, Senior Medical Advisor, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

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