The bacterial colonization of healthcare workers’ mobile phones in a large tertiary care teaching hospital in Saudi Arabia
Introduction: The use of mobile phones by healthcare workers is a risk factor for microorganism transmission in healthcare settings. Pathogenic bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative bacteria like Escherichia coli that are known to cause nosocomial infection have been isolated from mobile phones. In this cross-sectional study, we assess the burden and related risk factors of the bacterial colonization of healthcare workers’ mobile phones.
Methodology: We collected samples from the mobile phones of 130 healthcare workers’ in a Saudi Arabian teaching hospital, using moistened cotton swabs. The isolated organisms were identified using an automated identification and susceptibility system. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to test the data.
Results: Of 130 swabs collected, 45 (34.6%) grew one species and 48 (36.9%) grew two or more. Staphylococcus epidermidis was the most commonly isolated bacteria (52.3%), followed by Micrococcus and related species (25.4%), Staphylococcus hominis (13.8%), and Bacillus species (6.9%). Clinically significant microorganisms such as S. aureus and Pseudomonas sp. were identified in 2 (1.5%) samples, respectively. The odds of mobile phone colonization were 8.5 times higher (95% CI = 3.2-23.1) in the laboratory, neonatal intensive care unit, and medicine departments. Mobile phones owned for more than one year were more likely to be culture positive (OR = 2.9, 95% CI = 1.1-7.6).
Conclusions: In our study, the prevalence of bacterial colonization among healthcare workers’ mobile phones was high. Our findings suggest that high-risk groups for mobile phone colonization—such as laboratory, neonatal intensive care unit, and medicine department staff—should be a priority for preventative measures, to improve infection control.
Copyright (c) 2021 Nourah Zaab Al-Beeshi, Rawa Mosaed Alohali, Armen Albert Torchyan, Ali Mohammed Somily
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