Anaesthetists' role in computer keyboard contamination in an operating room

J Hosp Infect. 2008 Oct;70(2):148-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2008.05.023. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


To store anaesthetic records in computers, anaesthetists usually input data while still wearing dirty wet gloves. No studies have explored computer contamination in the operating room (OR) or anaesthetists' awareness of the importance of handwashing or hand hygiene. We investigated four components of keyboard contamination: (1) degree of contamination, (2) effect of cleaning with ethyl alcohol, (3) bacterial transmission between gloves and keyboards by tapping keys, and (4) frequency of anaesthetists' performing hand hygiene. Most of the bacteria on keyboards were coagulase-negative staphylococci and Bacillus spp.; however, meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was also found. Cleaning keyboards with ethyl alcohol effectively reduced bacterial counts. Wet contaminated gloves and keyboards transmitted meticillin-susceptible Staphylococcus epidermidis from one to the other more readily than dry contaminated gloves and keyboards. Only 17% of anaesthetists performed hand hygiene before anaesthesia, although 64% or 69% of anaesthetists performed hand hygiene after anaesthesia or before lunch. To prevent cross-contamination, keyboards should be routinely cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions and disinfected once daily, or, when visibly soiled with blood or secretions. Moreover, anaesthetists should be aware that they could spread microbes that might cause healthcare-associated infection in the OR. Anaesthetists should perform hand hygiene before and after anaesthesia and remove gloves after each procedure and before using the computer.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / standards*
  • Bacillus / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Computer Peripherals*
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Gloves, Surgical / microbiology
  • Hand / microbiology
  • Hand Disinfection / methods
  • Humans
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Staphylococcus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification