Impact of a disinfecting technique on microbial contamination of computer keyboards and telephone handsets

Gabriele Messina, Emma Ceriale, Sandra Burgassi, Carmela Russo, Chiara Defranceschi, Lorenzo Mariani, Lucilla Taddei, Daniele Lenzi, Pietro Manzi


Background: Computers and telephones are ubiquitous in the hospital and have been shown to be contaminated with potentially pathogenic microorganism. The aim of the study was to determine microbial contamination on computer keyboards and telephone handsets and the effectiveness of a disinfecting technique (DT).

Methods: A matched cross-over study, involving an overall of 50 computer keyboards and 50 telephone handsets, was conducted in three hospitals, located in the Local Health Area of Siena (Italy) before and after the use of an innovative DT consisting of a malleable-elastic compound, containing ethanol, which adheres to surfaces, removes dirt and disinfects. Total bacterial count was evaluated and several types of bacteria and fungi were researched pre- and post- use of the DT. Non parametric tests: Wilcoxon signed rank and Mann Whitney, were used, when appropriate.

Results: The DT was effective in disinfecting the objects. In fact, Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) decreased to zero in most comparisons. All the comparisons showed significant differences (p<0.001) after the DT, both for computer keyboards and telephone handsets. The only exception was found for molds in telephones (p=0.062). Keyboards emerged to be dirtier than telephones handsets (p<0.05) for several types of bacteria.

Conclusions: The data suggest that microbial contamination of keyboards and telephones is considerable. These objects can be a vehicle for Health Care-Associated Infections HAIs and their disinfection should not be neglected. The DT showed to be appropriate for the disinfecting purpose.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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