Mobile Devices and Healthcare-Associated Infections

Brandy Wentz, BSN, RN; Mary Jane Bowles, DNP, RN, CCRN, CNS-BC


Am Nurs Journal. 2018;13(9) 

In This Article

The Research

The NRC, whose mission is to foster a culture of nursing research and promote application of evidence-based practice that facilitates optimal outcomes in healthcare, was empowered by the organization to conduct a professional research study. NRC members, including bedside nurses from several inpatient units and clinical nurse specialists, began with a brain-storming session and literature review to evaluate and investigate the potential for bacterial contamination of medical equipment (keyboards, stethoscopes, sharps containers, MHDs) used during patient care.

The literature review revealed that multidrug-resistant pathogens can contaminate a variety of devices, and several studies focused on microbiologic contamination of clinicians' mobiles phones. Heyba and colleagues found that 73.7% of the MHDs tested were colonized with bacteria. And Pal and colleagues reported that 100% of the contamination found on MHDs was also on hospital care workers' hands, indicating MHDs can be the source of nosocomial pathogens.

Although the literature supported the potential for MHDs to harbor bacteria, the NRC found little research about disinfection recommendations for MHDs in hospitals. The council members decided to research best practice guidelines for disinfecting MHDs. They found several general cleaning guidelines from product manufacturers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and previously conducted studies. Apple, for example, suggests using a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth for their mobile devices, including phones and tablets. However, the manufacturer warns that abrasive cloths might damage screens. The CDC recommends cleaning regimens that are effective, fast-acting, easy to follow, and economic. After completing the literature view, the council chose 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes (which are easily accessible to the staff and cost efficient) and 15 seconds of friction as the disinfection technique for their study. The wipes were supplied by the organization in support of shared governance activities.