The Journal of Infection Control reports that many patients’ mobile phones contain pathogenic bacteria , at least at the one hospital in Turkey where the study was conducted. About 40 percent of the phones carried by patients, companions and visitors were affected compared to 20 percent of health care workers. The report points out that even if mobile phones don’t pose a risk to the operation of medical equipment –which is often used as a reason to ban the phones– there could be even more serious dangers from the bacteria.
The researchers discuss different ways to reduce bacterial colonization of phones such as education, hand washing, alcoholic wipes and banning cell phones in certain areas.
I found it a little curious that the researchers didn’t seem to have included a comparison of bacterial colonization rates with landline phones in patients’ rooms. Maybe those aren’t common in Turkey the way they are in the US, but it seems like it would be a more relevant comparison.