In an age of constant connectivity,
healthcare professionals are rarely
without touchscreen devices. From
tablets in hallway kiosks to x-ray
screens to doctors' and nurses' own
smartphones, such surfaces abound
in healthcare settings.
Proliferation of this technology
inadvertently increases the risk
of exposure to harmful bacteria and spread of infection. Our
fingertips are home to a plethora
of bacteria, and constant contact
with touchscreens leaves phones,
tablets, and other devices coated
with thriving bacteria cultures that
put all of us at risk if not cleaned
But while touchscreens are present in healthcare facilities now more
than ever, protocols for properly addressing the risks they invite haven't
quite caught up.
On any given day, about one in
25 hospital patients has at least one
healthcare-associated infection, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). If
not cleaned properly, some bacteria can survive for months on the
surface of a dry touchscreen device,
according to a 2016 Environmental
Health Review study.
And the risk of contamination is
amplified by the fact that 86 percent of clinicians and 76 percent
of nurses use smartphones while at
work, according to Mobile Trends
Report and a study published in
JMIR Publications, respectively.
The prevalence of these devices emphasizes the importance of
proper cleaning, which is one of the
most effective means, aside from
hand hygiene, of minimizing or eliminating risks.
Touchscreens are the future of
healthcare facility technology, and
so professionals should reconsider their approach to cleaning in a
digital age. To ward off risk, traditional precautionary measures like
required hand washing won't go far
enough to handle this new frontier
of infection control.
To minimize the spread of infections, communication and preparedness is key. Healthcare professionals
should implement the following
steps into their infection prevention
protocol to ensure screens are being
consistently and properly cleaned:
1. Educate staff to the issue.
While the 24-7 connectivity of
doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff seldom leaves them
without their personal electronic
devices, many may be unaware
of just how easily the transfer of
bacteria-laden phones or tablets
can put all of us at risk. Clear
and consistent education about
these risks will keep the reality
top of mind.
2. Provide proper tools with
which staff can take action.
Place appropriate, compatible
cleaning wipes, such as PDI's
By Melanie Waddell, Director of Marketing, PDI Healthcare
to cleaning in
a digital age.
Director of Marketing
The Future Of Healthcare Is Filled With Touchscreens,
Making It Vitally Important To Keep Those Screens Clean
Harmful strains, such as MRSA,
Staphyloccus, and Streptococcus
spp can linger on devices and put
patients at risk of infection. Such
hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)
also cost hospitals billions of
dollars in reduced reimbursements
and preventable expenditures every
year, according to the CDC.