Computer keyboards used in hospitals are a reservoir for bacteria that staff could pass to patients and need to be disinfected every day, a new study warns.
Researchers collected samples from 25 computer keyboards at various locations inside University of North Carolina hospitals and found that each keyboard was infected with at least two types of bacteria, reports the science portal HealthCentral.
William A. Rutala at the University of North Carolina Health Care System and other researchers said every keyboard tested positive for coagulase-negative staphylococci, a major cause of bloodstream infection in hospitalised patients.
They also found 13 other types of bacteria on the keyboards. The researchers also tested different types of disinfectant wipes to clean the keyboards.
They include isopropyl alcohol wipes, caviwipes, chlorine wipes, clorox disinfecting wipes, sani-cloth plus, vesphene II SE wipes, and paper towels moistened with sterile water.
All of them removed or inactivated at least 95 percent to 100 percent of the bacteria, the researchers said in their study appearing in the April issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers use computers for a number of tasks while seeing patients, including viewing test results and X-rays, or ordering laboratory tests.
"Using computers in this manner provides many advantages. However, it can also pose the risk of transmitting illness-causing bacteria from the computer keyboard to patients via the hands of their healthcare provider," the researchers said.
All computer keyboards in patient care areas should be routinely disinfected every day and whenever they are visibly soiled, the researchers said. If a keyboard cover is used, it should also be disinfected.
Mobile computers used by different patients should be disinfected between patient uses, they said.