Investigation into the cleaning methods of smartphones and wearables from infectious contamination in a patient care environment (I-SWIPE)

Stephanie Huffman, Carly Webb, Sean P Spina
American Journal of Infection Control 2020, 48 (5): 545-549

BACKGROUND: Many health care workers are using smartphones and wearable devices without an enforced cleaning standard to prevent the spread of bacteria to patients. To our knowledge, no real-world trials have been performed to date, examining bacterial elimination on these devices in a hospital setting. The primary objective was to determine if ultraviolet wavelength C (UV-C) was more effective at eliminating bacteria on smartphones and wearable devices when compared with usual care.

METHODS: This prospective before-and-after study included clinicians who used smartphones or wearable devices during their daily clinical practice. Devices underwent two 30-second UV-C disinfection cycles, at the beginning and end of clinician shifts. Swabs were collected at predetermined intervals both prior to and following a UV-C disinfection cycle to determine the extent of bacterial growth.

RESULTS: Following a run-in period of twice-daily UV-C disinfection, 20% of devices grew pathogenic bacteria prior to UV-C use. Comparatively, only 4% of devices grew bacteria post-UV-C; therefore, the decrease in bacterial growth was statistically significant (P = .002).

CONCLUSIONS: UV-C appears to be more effective at eliminating bacteria on smartphones and wearable devices when compared with usual care and is a useful disinfection device in a hospital setting. Further studies are needed to determine the interval at which UV-C should be used to prevent bacterial growth and spread.

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