contaminated healthcare worker phone

Healthcare workers’ mobile phones: a potential cause of microbial cross-contamination between hospitals and community


This study evaluated the microbial contamination of healthcare workers’ (HCWs) mobile phones. The study was conducted at a secondary referral hospital in July 2010. Samples were taken from all surfaces of the mobile phones using a sterile swab, and incubated on Brain Heart Infusion agar at 37.5°C for 24 hr. Any isolated microorganisms were grown aerobically on 5% sheep blood agar and eosin methylene-blue agar medium at 37.5°C for 24-48 hr. The Sceptor microdilution system was used to identify the microorganisms, together with conventional methods. The oxacillin disc diffusion test and double-disc synergy test were used to identify methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and expanded-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Gram-negative bacilli, respectively. The mobile phones were also categorized according to whether the HCWs used them in the intensive care unit (ICU). Overall, 183 mobile phones were screened: 94 (51.4%) from nurses, 32 (17.5%) from laboratory workers, and 57 (31.1%) from health care staff. In total, 179 (97.8%) culture-positive specimens were isolated from the 183 mobile phones, including 17 (9.5%) MRSA and 20 (11.2%) ESBL-producing Escherichia coli, which can cause nosocomial infections. No statistical difference was observed in the recovery of MRSA (p = 0.3) and ESBL-producing E. coli (p = 0.6) between the HCW groups. Forty-four (24.6%) of the 179 specimens were isolated from mobile phones of ICU workers, including two MRSA and nine ESBL-producing E. coli. A significant (p = 0.02) difference was detected in the isolation of ESBL-producing E. coli between ICU workers and non-ICU workers. HCWs’ mobile phones are potential vectors for transferring nosocomial pathogens between HCWs, patients, and the community.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 21 articles

See all “Cited by” articles


  1. Brady R.R.W., Veran J., Damani N.N., and Gibb A.P.: Review of mobile communication devices as potential reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens. J. Hosp. Infect. 71: 295–300 (2009). – PubMed

Sign up for the cleanslate uv newsletter

Keep up with the latest updates on CleanSlate’s newest products and breakthroughs.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contact us to learn how to implement CleanSlate at your facility: