Microbiological colonization of healthcare workers’ mobile phones in a tertiary-level Italian intensive care unit

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Background: Careful hand hygiene of healthcare workers is recommended to reduce transmission of pathogenic microorganisms to patients. Mobile phones are commonly used during work shifts and may act as vehicles of pathogens. Objective: To assess the colonizsation rate of intensive care unit healthcare workers’ mobile phones before and after work shifts. Methods: Prospective observational study conducted in an academic, tertiary-level intensive care unit. Healthcare workers (including doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants) had their mobile phones sampled for microbiology before and after work shifts. Samples were taken with a swab in a standardizsed modality. Results: Fifty healthcare workers participated in the study (91% of the department staff). One hundred swabs were taken from 50 mobile phones. Forty-three healthcare workers (86%) reported a habitual use of their phones during the work shift. All phones (100%) were positive for bacteria. The most frequently isolated bacteria were Coagulase Negative Staphylococci, Bacillus sp. and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (97%, 56%, 17%, respectively). No patient admitted to the intensive care unit during the study period was positive for bacteria found on healthcare workers’ mobile phones. No difference in bacteria types and burden was found between the beginning and the end of work shifts. Conclusion: Healthcare workers’ mobile phones are colonized even before the work shift and irrespective of the patients’ microbiological flora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Cell phone
  • Intensive care unit
  • Microbiological colonization
  • Mobile phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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