Doctors’ cell phones carry dangerous bacteria strains

Ever wonder why diseases often spread in hospitals, even in supposedly sterile environments like new-born baby wards? A recent study carried in Turkey’s top medical university, Ondokuz Mayis, have concluded that call phones carried by doctors and other health care workers often have as many as three or more strains of bacteria on them, and even though they wash their hands thoroughly, the cell phones they carry are not disinfected. The findings said that the phones “act as a reservoir for transmitting bacteria from patient to patient”.

The study was carried out on 200 health professionals, and found that even though they observed requirements for washing hands and wearing clean uniforms, at least 95% of their cellular phones tested positive for at least one bacteria strain, with
12.5% of the phones testing positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria strains.

The MRSA bacteria is an antibiotic resistant of the common S. aureus bacteria that is responsible for staph infections. If the bacteria gets into the body and reaches sensitive organs, such as the lungs, the result can be serious complications, and even death. MRSA staph infections in hospitals have risen more than 63% between 1974 and 2004, and result in 94,000 MRSA infections and 19,000 deaths per year. Patients in hospitals are especially at risks, as they are often in a more vulnerable state of health.

The mobile phones, being close to the body, and in constant use by both physicians, nurses and other health care professionals are at risks for transmitting diseases, including to the phone owner’s own family. “The mobile phones are carried all day long and not cleaned properly” the study determined.

The study found that only one in ten health care workers cleaned their phones properly.

Although the banning of cell phones might prove to be too impracticable, as they act as paging devices while the workers are on duty, it was recommended that the phones be cleaned frequently with an alcohol or antimicrobial disinfectant.

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