Nursing Notes

July 16, 2010

The fight against hospital infection hits your PC

As a student in Microbiology class, we had an assignment to culture from various public areas around our home and school.  While my fellow classmates focused in on bathroom fixtures and doorhandles, I checked out public phones, public computers, public machinery.  My petri dish grew the most obnoxious specimens in the class.  It made me a believer in handwashing and wiping down public items prior to my own use.

I have always felt that telephones and computer keyboards, mice, etc. are simply gateways for bacteria in the hospital setting.  This article seems to replicate my own concerns.  Please do visit this site, and read the comments and maybe leave your own.  This site has really great articles about technology, health and business that you will enjoy, so browse the site while you are there.


By Dana Blankenhorn | Jul 14, 2010

One of the best ways to save money on health care is to cut hospital infection rates.

It’s a lesson that goes back to the days of Lister. Yet it’s a lesson that has been ignored at many facilities out of simple laziness.

Efforts like Donald Berwick’s 100,000 Lives campaign, at the Institute for Healthcare Innovation, and Peter Pronovost’s work with checklists have proven that lives and dollars can be saved if people just pay attention to germ-fighting protocols.

But there remains a big problem, one that is likely to grow as more facilities get Electronic Health Records (EHRs).


PCs are germ magnets. Everyone who types on one leaves possible disease. Regular hand-washing can help.

But so can washing the keyboard and mouse.

I wrote about this in March, at the HIMSS show. The Unotron washable keyboard turns out to be just part of an extensive line of computer peripherals created by the British company with a patented technology it calls SpillSeal. The whole unit is completely waterproof — even the USB port is protected.

The gear is made in China so it’s cheap as chips. There are mice and even SmartCard readers you can wash off in the sink, with anti-microbial barriers against infection. The keyboards you can roll up are pretty cool.

I don’t want to be the only person banging the table for this stuff. So here’s a study done at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The highest germ level in triage and registration areas of hospitals is on the computer keyboard.

Nasty, deadly germs like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can infect an entire hospital from that keyboard, that mouse, that registration desk. And the use of keyboards and mice is going to increase, dramatically, as emergency rooms see EHRs delivering the decision support needed to avoid lawsuits.

This is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. Add washing the computer to your protocols for protecting patients from MRSA. You’ll save money, you’ll save lives.

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