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How Dirty Are Doctors' Cellphones?

Research has found that the cellphones of doctors, nurses and other hospital workers are as dirty as some toilet bowls. A study from Ondokuz Mayis University that was published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials found that 95 percent of doctors' cellphones had bacteria on them, and one in eight had the superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on them. MRSA is reported to be the cause of as much as 60 percent of hospital infections in the United States. Cellphones in general have been found to have the dirtiest surface of anything in the home, possibly because they are often used close to the skin and because the heat from the skin and the battery provides a good environment where bacteria can grow.

More facts about cellphones and hospitals:

  • The study also found that almost half of the cellphones had at least two types of bacteria on them, and that only one in 10 doctors cleaned their cellphones regularly.

  • Although there is a risk of spreading infection via cellphones, most of the bacteria on the phones probably would not be harmful to a healthy person, because humans live in bacteria-rich environments on a daily basis. The main risk might come more from the location than the presence of the bacteria — people in doctors' offices and hospitals often have compromised immune systems.

  • Studies have shown that when a person picks up a cellphone, about one-third of the germs on the phone transfer to the hand and face.

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