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Study Promotes Disinfection of Health Care Tablets

June 13, 2019

Environmental services staff are accustomed to regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch hospital areas, such as bed rails, restroom surfaces, and nurse call buttons. One tool regularly used in hospitals may not be getting as much attention—computer tablets.

Researchers inspected iPads used during patient care at the University Hospital of Bern in Bern, Switzerland, after they had been cleaned once a day using routine hygienic methods. They compared these results to a second phase of the study when the tablets were cleaned twice a day, including an intervention disinfection using 70% ethanol, according to a study published in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control.

After taking swab samples of the tablets, researchers found 96% percent of the samples included bacterial growth in the first phase, compared to 81% of the samples after the intervention phase. The most common bacteria found were normal skin bacteria, followed by normal respiratory bacteria. However, some of the samples included Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen that can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. S. aureus is one of the most common causes of health care-acquired infections (HAIs).

S. aureus colonization was found in 14% of the samples in the first phase but decreased to 7% of the samples in the phase with the second disinfection.

HAIs sicken about 722,000 U. S. hospital patients each year and are responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CMM offers tips to choosing the right cleaning solution to eliminate HAIs, such as peracetic acid, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide blends against bacterial spores such as C. difficile., and blends of quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) or alcohol to kill mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis and nonlipid viruses such as norovirus.

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