Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine


Aug 02, 2011 10:15PM ● By Anonymous

A debate has been raging for years about whether or not it is safe to use a cell phone in a hospital for fear that it might disrupt sensitive medical equipment. Recently, however, many hospitals have loosened their restrictions about cell phone use within hospital walls. But now there is a new, disturbing reason to leave the phone in the car.

According to a study published, in the June issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), found that cell phones used by patients and their visitors were twice as likely to contain potentially dangerous bacteria as those of healthcare workers.

Two hundred mobile phones were cultured for the study, 67 of which belonged to medical employees and 133 to patients, patients’ companions and visitors. The researchers found that 39.6 percent of the patient group phones and 20.6 percent of the healthcare workers’ phones tested positive for pathogens. Even worse, seven of the patient phones contained multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). No staff cell phones tested positive for MDR pathogens.

“The types of bacteria that were found on the patients’ mobile phones and their resistance pattern were very worrisome,”
state the authors of the study. “Some investigators have reported that mobile phones of medical personnel may be a potential source of bacteria pathogens in the hospital setting. Our finding suggest that mobile phones of patients, patients companions and visitors represent higher risk for nosocomial pathogen colonization that those of the healthcare workers. Specific infection control measures may be required for this threat.”

Hospital-acquired infections cause 1.7 million infections a year and are associated with approximately 100,000 deaths. It is estimated that one third of these infections could be prevented by adhering to standard infection control guidelines.

This information comes as no surprise to one of our co-workers here at What’s Up? Media. His newborn child recently spent several months in the Johns Hopkins NICU…where cell phone use is prohibited because of the threat of germs.