Twice-Daily Disinfection Can Substantially Reduce Bacterial Colonization of In-Hospital Tablet Computers

Tablet computers are increasingly being used in hospital patient care and are often colonized with important human pathogens, while the impact of disinfection interventions remains controversial.

In a prospective hygiene intervention study, Frey, et al. (2019) consecutively sampled tablet computers exclusively used in a high-resource general internal medicine tertiary care setting with high routine hygiene measures. The researchers sought to examine the change in colonizing bacteria on tablet computers before and after the introduction of a mandatory twice-daily tablet disinfection intervention. Microbial identification was performed by conventional culture, and the association of bacterial colonization with the intervention was investigated using logistic regression.

In a total of 168 samples they identified colonizing bacteria in 149 (89%) of samples. While the most commonly identified species were normal skin bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus found in 18 (11%) of samples was the most frequent potential pathogen. They did not detect any Enterococci or Enterobacteriaceae. The disinfection intervention was associated with substantially less overall bacterial colonization (odds ratio 0.16; 95%-CI 0.04–0.56), while specific colonization with Staphylococcus aureus was only slightly decreased (odds ratio 0.46; 95%-CI 0.16–1.29).

The researchers say their results indicate that a twice daily disinfection can still substantially reduce bacterial colonization of in-hospital tablet computers used in a high-resource and high hygiene setting.

Reference: Frey PM, et al. Bacterial colonization of handheld devices in a tertiary care setting: a hygiene intervention study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 2019; 8:97