Dissemination of Pathogens by Mobile Phones in a Single Hospital


  • Michael B Canales Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center
  • Grace C Craig Cleveland Clinic - Fairview Hospital
  • John Boyd Jr. Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center
  • Mario Markovic Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center
  • Richard A Chmielewski Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center




Mobile Phones, Cell Phones, Hospital Infections, Prosthetic Joint Infection, Total Knee Arthroplasty


Background: Superficial wound complications are among the most prevalent problems associated with any surgical procedures.  Infection rates of the primary hip and knee joint arthroplasty have been reduced with modern aseptic techniques but this rate may reach 20% in some revision procedures.  Mobile phones are frequently used in the hospital and operating room settings, regardless of their microbial load.    This study aimed to: 1) determine the level of bacterial contamination of mobile phones from resident physicians at Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center (SVCMC) in Cleveland, Ohio; 2) determine the effectiveness of quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) wipes; and 3) heighten awareness of potential dissemination of pathogens by mobile phones in the hospital setting.

Materials & Methods: A total of fifty mobile phones were randomly sampled from podiatric surgical resident physicians and internal medicine resident physicians at SVCMC. For each mobile phone, a swab was collected from the touch screen prior to use of QAC wipes and following use of QAC wipes.

Results: The results demonstrated that 82% (41/50) of mobile phone touch screens possessed polymicrobial organisms and 30% (15/50) of mobile phones possessed pathogenic organisms.  The vast majority of residents, 98% (49/50) used their phones within the hospital and 37% (18/49) used their phones inside patients’ room. Most of the residents, 86% (43/50), did not clean their phones on a daily basis and of the residents who did, a majority of them, 71% (5/7) used either dry wipes or alcohol wipes.

Discussion: Sanitizing mobile phones with QAC disposable wipes was shown to be an effective infection control intervention as mobile phone touch screens showed no growth after two minutes of sanitization.  QAC could potentially decrease the transmission of microorganisms that cause diseases and reduce the risk of cross contamination infections from mobile phones.

Author Biographies

Michael B Canales, Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center

Chief of the Division of Podiatry

Director of the Podiatric Surgical Residency


Grace C Craig, Cleveland Clinic - Fairview Hospital


John Boyd Jr., Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center

Podiatric Surgical Resident PGY 2


Mario Markovic, Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center

Administrative Director of Laboratory Medicine and

Pulmonary Services


Richard A Chmielewski, Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center

Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease

Board of Director of Hospital









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How to Cite

Canales, M. B., Craig, G. C., Boyd Jr., J., Markovic, M., & Chmielewski, R. A. (2017). Dissemination of Pathogens by Mobile Phones in a Single Hospital. Reconstructive Review, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.15438/rr.7.3.192



Original Article