Old Cell Phones Germ Risk

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Last updated April 12, 2019

Old cell phones and other such devices could pose a health risk in hospitals because of the amount of germs that can accumulate on their surfaces.  The germs that old cell phones and the like are carrying into hospitals are not just any old bacteria either, but highly “worrisome” drug resistant bacteria, according to researchers from the Inonu University’s Department of Medical Microbiology in Malatya in Turkey.

The researchers studied more than 200 old cell phones and took swab samples from three distinct areas on the phones – the earpiece, the keypad, and the microphone.  The phones were also placed in different categories depending to whom they belonged, be it patients, visitors or actual employees of the hospital.  Alarmingly, while only 20 per cent of the phones owned by hospital employees were found to have bacteria on them, 40 per cent of the phones owned by either patients or visitors to the hospital were found to be harboring pathogens – and pathogens that were resistant to multiple drugs as well.

“The types of bacteria that were found on the patients’ (cell phones) and their resistance patterns were very worrisome”, according to the authors of the report, which has been published in the American Journal of Infection Control in their June issue.  “Our findings suggest that mobile phones of patients, patients’ companions, and visitors represent higher risk for nosocomial pathogen colonization than those of (medical staff).  Specific infection control measures may be required for this threat.”