Review of mobile communication devices as potential reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens

J Hosp Infect. 2009 Apr;71(4):295-300. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2008.12.009. Epub 2009 Jan 24.


Innovation in mobile communication technology has provided novel approaches to the delivery of healthcare and improvements in the speed and quality of routine medical communication. Bacterial contamination of mobile communication devices (MCDs) could be an important issue affecting the implementation of effective infection control measures and might have an impact on efforts to reduce cross-contamination. This review examines recent studies reporting bacterial contamination of MCDs, most demonstrating that 9-25% of MCDs are contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. We examine previously investigated risk factors for MCD contamination in addition to work on surface decontamination of the device. Recommendations to reduce contamination risks include staff education, strict hand hygiene measures, guidelines on device cleaning and consideration of the restrictions regarding use of mobile phone technology in certain high risk areas, for example, operating theatres, intensive care units and burns units. Further work is required to evaluate the benefit of such interventions on MCD contamination and to determine whether a link exists between contamination and subsequent patient infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / transmission*
  • Equipment and Supplies / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Telecommunications*