A team of Emirati researchers have issued a warning about the dangers of the transmission of bacterial infections and microbes to those inside or outside the healthcare environment through smartphones and watches worn by healthcare providers.
The study, published through the Medical Research Bank on the website of the Ministry of Health and Community Protection in the UAE, found multiple types of microbial pollutants on 75% of the swabs collected from the phones and smart watches of several healthcare workers.
The results of the study stress the need to include the disinfection of phones and smart watches of medical care providers within infection control practices along with current hand hygiene practices.
The researchers’ findings confirmed that the presence of pathogenic microorganisms and viruses on mobile phones and smart watches increases the potential risk of disease spread, especially given that these devices accompany their wearers wherever they go, which makes them potential vectors for the spread of microorganisms, viruses and associated genetic elements, especially in the healthcare environment.
The research team explained that their findings indicate that failure to sterilize smart watches and phones can compromise the effectiveness of hand hygiene practices or the use of gloves to protect patients from infection transmission within medical facilities.
Furthermore, the study indicated that the threat of contamination caused by the smart devices of medical care service providers may extend to the entire community, and must be considered a potential biosecurity concern, given that such devices pass through modern means of transportation easily, making them a potential means of spreading microbial pollutants across international borders.