Computer keyboards in hospitals can be more contaminated with bacteria than emergency departments, a new American study has shown.
The study conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that keyboards located in triage and registration areas were more contaminated with bacteria than those in other areas of the Emergency Department.
Lead author Angela Pugliese, an emergency department physician at Henry Ford Hospital, said: "Contamination was predominantly found in non-treatment areas.
"This suggests that only areas without true patient contact, and likely less frequent hand washing, might benefit from using washable silicone rubber or antibacterial keyboards instead of a standard keyboard."
Multiple studies have found colonies of bacteria on computer keyboards. Due to the threat of its potential spread to patients, Henry Ford's Information Technology and Infection Control departments recommended exchanging traditional keyboards in the Emergency Department for washable, silicone rubber models.
The objective of this study was to determine the frequency and type of keyboard contamination before replacing the keyboards.
Seventy-two standard, non-silicone rubber keyboards were swabbed on two different days, six days apart. All keyboard keys, except the function keys, were cultured and analysed for bacteria.
Less than 14 percent, or 10 keyboards, were colonized with nine different bacteria.
Of the keyboards in non-treatment areas, nearly 32 percent were contaminated, versus less than nine percent in treatment areas.
Dr. Pugliese will present the findings of the study at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Phoenix.