Hospital Computers May Be Reservoir for Transmission of Resistant Bacteria

  1. yael waknine

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    april 11, 2005-contact with computer keyboards and keyboard covers allows transmission of resistant bacteria to gloved and ungloved hands, according to the results of a study presented today at the 15th annual scientific meeting of the society for healthcare epidemiology of america in los angeles, california. while regular disinfection of computer equipment is recommended, the most important disease prevention strategy is handwashing prior to patient contact.

    "there's been an increasing trend towards maintaining electronic health records and computerized order entry, and in some hospitals there's now a computer in every patient's room that could potentially serve as a reservoir for the transmission of resistant bacteria," senior investigator gary a. noskin, md, told medscape. he is associate professor of medicine at northwestern university feinberg school of medicine and medical director of healthcare epidemiology at northwestern memorial hospital in chicago, illinois.

    to determine the viability of bacteria survival, the investigators inoculated clean computer keyboards and keyboard covers with clinical isolates of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus faecium (vre), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (mrsa), and pseudomonas aeruginosa (psae). samples drawn from these surfaces at regular intervals showed that vre and mrsa were capable of prolonged survival on keyboards and covers (growth at 24 hours), while psae was not (keyboards, one hour; covers, five minutes).

    the investigators then confirmed that the bacteria were transmissible from the keyboards and covers to fingers. transmission increased with keyboard contact (1 to 5 touches; vre: 22% to 50%, mrsa: 42% to 92%, psae: 9% to 18%), and the transmission rate of vre and mrsa was higher for ungloved hands than for gloved hands (67% vs 7% and 80% vs 67%, respectively). similar transmission rates were observed for keyboard covers.

    "not only do vre and mrsa organisms survive on these surfaces, but they can be transmitted from the surfaces to the hands of healthcare workers," dr. noskin pointed out...."

    for the rest of the story, go to the link (you have to register):
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/502836?src=mp
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   butterflynurse03
    wow, makes you want to disinfect and type with gloves on....

    Quote from angie o'plasty, rn
    yael waknine

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    april 11, 2005-contact with computer keyboards and keyboard covers allows transmission of resistant bacteria to gloved and ungloved hands, according to the results of a study presented today at the 15th annual scientific meeting of the society for healthcare epidemiology of america in los angeles, california. while regular disinfection of computer equipment is recommended, the most important disease prevention strategy is handwashing prior to patient contact.

    "there's been an increasing trend towards maintaining electronic health records and computerized order entry, and in some hospitals there's now a computer in every patient's room that could potentially serve as a reservoir for the transmission of resistant bacteria," senior investigator gary a. noskin, md, told medscape. he is associate professor of medicine at northwestern university feinberg school of medicine and medical director of healthcare epidemiology at northwestern memorial hospital in chicago, illinois.

    to determine the viability of bacteria survival, the investigators inoculated clean computer keyboards and keyboard covers with clinical isolates of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus faecium (vre), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (mrsa), and pseudomonas aeruginosa (psae). samples drawn from these surfaces at regular intervals showed that vre and mrsa were capable of prolonged survival on keyboards and covers (growth at 24 hours), while psae was not (keyboards, one hour; covers, five minutes).

    the investigators then confirmed that the bacteria were transmissible from the keyboards and covers to fingers. transmission increased with keyboard contact (1 to 5 touches; vre: 22% to 50%, mrsa: 42% to 92%, psae: 9% to 18%), and the transmission rate of vre and mrsa was higher for ungloved hands than for gloved hands (67% vs 7% and 80% vs 67%, respectively). similar transmission rates were observed for keyboard covers.

    "not only do vre and mrsa organisms survive on these surfaces, but they can be transmitted from the surfaces to the hands of healthcare workers," dr. noskin pointed out...."

    for the rest of the story, go to the link (you have to register):
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/502836?src=mp
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    disgusting.
  5. by   CraigB-RN
    Keep it in perspective. So does the pen in your pocket, your watch, your stethoscope, the zipper in your pants, your eyeglasses.

    Thats why we wash our hands.
  6. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    Is anyone out there using disposable keyboards?

    I've gotten some "promotional literature" about them but am unaware of any facilities using them. They look un-ergonomic -- flat and flexible (you can roll them up), and you can spray disinfectant on them. It's a great idea if they're user-friendly.

    Thanks,
    =^..^=
    Last edit by kitty=^..^=cat on Apr 22, '05 : Reason: To add that they're less than $10 each, I believe...
  7. by   NurseFirst
    Quote from CraigB-RN
    Keep it in perspective. So does the pen in your pocket, your watch, your stethoscope, the zipper in your pants, your eyeglasses.

    Thats why we wash our hands.
    Um, no. It is actually worse than the pen in your pocket.

    I was just thinking about this. Who sits at those computer terminals? Where I do clinicals--everyone--nurses, doctors, students...IOW, the germs of every patient on the ward, and some from other wards, can end up on a particular keyboard. And while handwashing helps, it certainly isn't an all-or-nothing proposition.

    Disinfection of keyboards is not a simple proposition, since you have all those cute crevices between the keys. I remember once working on a computer with one of those plastic covers over the keys. I could type; I don't recall that it was particularly difficult--but, my memory isn't that great--I'm just going by how I would remember the experience if it had been difficult--and that kind of memory is just not connected with that experience. The wonderful thing about those plastic covers is that they could be far more easily disinfected than the actual keys themselves (which, if disinfected, might wash off the names of the keys.).

    I hadn't even thought about the problem of rolling computers into patient rooms!

    Nurse "ready to sell plastic covers for keyboards to hospitals" First
  8. by   mysticalwaters1
    I've allways thought about that! Infact anytime i drop something on the floor even in the break room i'm like oh boy there that goes on the mrsa infested floor! And I am hesitant were to put my shoes after work!
  9. by   NurseFirst
    Quote from kitty=^..^=cat
    Is anyone out there using disposable keyboards?

    I've gotten some "promotional literature" about them but am unaware of any facilities using them. They look un-ergonomic -- flat and flexible (you can roll them up), and you can spray disinfectant on them. It's a great idea if they're user-friendly.

    Thanks,
    =^..^=
    Sort of like the membrane keyboards of the old Atari computers? Flat keyboards do lack in certain kinds of sensory feedback that most typists are used to. Did you know that they can make keyboards completely quiet when you type, but typists don't like that because they aren't getting the feedback they need to know that the key was struck successfully (by the sound of the key clicking.)

    I think the way the disposable keyboards could be used is to let every person have their own keyboard. At least you aren't getting the germs from the patient that the doctor or nurse who used the kayboard before you last saw...

    Although voice entry might be an option, as well.

    NurseFirst
  10. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Well that garlic-stuffed olive was tasting good till i read this lol.
  11. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    Quote from NurseFirst
    Flat keyboards do lack in certain kinds of sensory feedback that most typists are used to. Did you know that they can make keyboards completely quiet when you type, but typists don't like that because they aren't getting the feedback they need to know that the key was struck successfully (by the sound of the key clicking.)
    I learned to type on my mother's old "desktop" -- poetry, teenage musings, a couple of really creepy short stories that I wrote during my Flannery O'Connor period etc. I do have to have some level of "clicking", or I'd go mad...


    Quote from NurseFirst
    I think the way the disposable keyboards could be used is to let every person have their own keyboard. At least you aren't getting the germs from the patient that the doctor or nurse who used the keyboard before you last saw...
    Would you carry it around rolled up in a pocket and then just "dock" wherever you needed to "input"? That's a cool idea.

    Do you think that in the long run PDA's and palm-based devices will make more sense in part because of the infection control issues?

    Quote from NurseFirst
    Although voice entry might be an option, as well.
    True, but it will be a thousand years before my hospital can afford something like that.

    =^..^=
  12. by   meownsmile
    The stationary computers are bad enough, what about the famous COW (computer on wheels). Those things roll up and down the halls, in and out of rooms where people are coughing etc. I hate using them so if i can help it i dont.
    I have to agree with a previous poster,, handwashing is our best friend.

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