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Dirty Little Devices

Posted by Chris Richie on Jun 2, 2015 2:05:00 PM

In Infection Control

dirty_phoneAs I was sipping my morning coffee I scrolled through one our social media feeds and glanced at the headline, “Single-serve coffee makers can contain 4.6 million colonies of bacteria and mold.” Yeah, not the first thing you want to read when you’re getting your morning fix. Luckily I was sipping a cup of Dunks — and I’m not about to level any accusations at the mother’s milk of the Bay State.

Down in the dirt

The article was from a local CBS affiliate in Pittsburg. I feel like we get these gross-out germ pieces cycling every so often in the news. I’m not talking about the outbreak ones, like we saw with the recent Ebola scare, but the see what’s lurking on your cellphone, live at ten! kind.

Let’s face it—we don’t need a shocking expose to tell us that electronic consumer devices are dirty little buggers. I know a particular five-year-old that clings to an iPad mini, night and day, as if his life depended on watching another Minecraft video. I could buy more than a few Apple products if I had a dollar for every time I saw him sneeze on that screen. In fact there’s a hazy film that perpetually betrays cleaning, that looks like little fingers smeared Vaseline across the device’s surface. I’m getting a chill just thinking about it.

I guess there’s only so much you can get worked up about it in the kid department. I mean there’s research out there suggesting germ contact is a good thing—that it builds up the immune system. Some go as far to suggest not having a dishwasher helps to strengthen immune systems. I remember playing on a few rag-tag sports teams straight out of Bad News Bears and if you ever banged your knee, coach just told you to rub some dirt on it.

Cleaning up our act

Eventually though we all have to clean up our act, and if you work in healthcare, sterilization of rooms, surfaces and equipment is paramount. Which brings up an interesting dilemma when it comes to mobile devices; there are more of them than ever before, and those suckers get dirty.             

Mobile devices used in healthcare settings are some of the highest-touch surfaces in the hospital. A recent study of 200 devices of hospital staff, found that the rate of bacterial contamination of mobile phones is 94.5%. The isolated microorganisms from mobile phones and hands were similar. Some of them are known to cause nosocomial infections. The study found that 49.0% of phones grew one bacterial species, 34.0% two different species, 11.5% three or more different species and no bacterial growth were identified in 5.5% of phones.Nobody likes hearing that news, because we love our phones, and especially because there are so many great new advances coming out of healthcare mobile tech.

For the improvement of patient outcomes, cleaning mobile device surfaces is vital. Each year, infections originating from a patient’s hospital stay are estimated to be between 1.7 - 2 million. Nosocomial infections are so rampant that one doctor famously requested handshakes be eliminated from his hospital altogether.

So we have all this new exciting technology in the palm of our dirty hand. After a few glops of hand sanitizer for us, all those mobile devices need some sterilizing in order to safely function, germ-free in the hospital. I guess it’s on us at the office to wash out those Keurigs on frequent basis, but when it comes to Hospitals, there’s a company called ReadyDock that’s making sure the future of tomorrow is cleaner than today. According to the company, their product ReadyDock:UV, is the world’s first and only chemical-free disinfection multi-bay docking station. The company’s demo video shows the operation is about as easy as a microwave. You can store and lock your device in the dock for charging and safe keeping, or pop it in for a quick dose of sterilizing UV rays, which takes less than a minute.

Proliferation of mobile devices and the trend toward BYOD (bring your own device) in hospitals have the potential to create big infection control issues. Dirty mobile devices, if not cleaned regularly, even have the potential to negate hand-washing initiatives, as face and fingers touch dirty screens. Solutions like ReadyDock's take a big step forward in addressing this.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if ReadyDock can handle that five-year-old’s iPad. I see a huge market in the kindergarten department after they've helped clean hospitals.    


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