10:00am Tuesday 12 December 2017

Research shows practitioners’ mobile phones pose serious health concerns

A new study has found mobile phones used by medical practitioners in a hospital setting contain a high level of bacteria.

Tasmanian doctor Yi Chao Foong conducted the research during his final year of study at the University of Tasmania’s Faculty of Health. The research was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

More than 140 doctors and 80 medical students were screened in a hospital setting with researchers wanting to know the types of microorganisms phones carried, and the amount of contamination.

“Everybody in a hospital setting has mobile phones,” Dr Foong said.

“It is how we communicate and do our jobs.

“Yet, unlike the attention given to ensuring hands are washed, it was unclear whether mobile phones were being cleaned.

“We wanted to know the types of bacteria they were harbouring.”

The study found 74 per cent of phones were contaminated with bacteria.

What’s more, Dr Foong said while most of the bacteria were normal flora, one in every 20 mobiles posed a serious risk to health by harbouring potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Only 20 per cent of participants reported cleaning their phones routinely with alcohol wipes.

“What we also found was that only a small portion, one in five practitioners, routinely cleaned their phones with alcohol wipes” Dr Foong said.

The study was conducted with the assistance of the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust and supervisors from Launceston Clinical School, including Director, Associate Professor Kim Rooney and Dr Kathryn Ogden.

University of Tasmania, Australia.


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