Cell phones of hospital workers covered in dangerous, contagious viruses… and 20 percent of staffers don’t wash their hands
Patients needing hospitalization are already in a vulnerable state. As soon as they make their way through the hospital doors, risk factors go up, and they are made even more vulnerable by their environment. Hospitals are a breeding ground for viruses and superbugs, the kind of pathogens that can severely affect an already immune-compromised patient.
According to a new study out of France, one fifth of hospital staff don’t even clean their hands after handling their cellphones. Of the mobile devices tested in French hospitals, 38.5 percent tested positive for viruses. Doctors and nurses are carrying cellphones around which harbor viruses that cause stomach upset, nausea and respiratory illness that can lead to lung infections.
At the Saint-Etienne University Hospital in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France, scientists went in and swabbed the mobile phones that hospital workers used on a daily basis. One hundred and fourteen doctors and nurses participated, as the team of researchers investigated the potentially dangerous situation of virus transmission between caregiver and patient. The researchers found that 64 percent of healthcare workers used their phones on the job, and that 38.5 percent of their devices were contaminated with viruses.
Vomit-inducing rotavirus most pervasive pathogen found on doctors’ cellphones
The most pervasive pathogen was the rotavirus, which was discovered on 39 of 109 phones. The spread of rotavirus, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, could be halted if healthcare workers washed their hands after handling their cellphones.
Furthermore, three phones were covered in genetic material from the respiratory syncytial virus, while metapneumovirus was found on one. Both viruses can lead to lung infections. The implications are most severe for high-risk patients who have weakened immune systems.
One fifth of workers not washing hands after using contaminated cellphones
One of the biggest problems the researchers found, was that one fifth of the hospital workers were not washing their hands after handling their contaminated phones. This is where a normal hospital setting becomes more dangerous, more infectious, as the caregiver with unclean hands comes in close contact with patients.
Another problem the researchers identified was with cordless hospital phones. These phones are disinfected less often, especially in pediatric departments where sick children are at greater risk.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Elisabeth Botelho-Nevers said: “The majority of healthcare workers (64 per cent) used their mobile phones during patient care, which was expected. However, it was surprising that 20 per cent of them admitted never carrying out any hand hygiene procedures, either before or after using their phone, even though all said they knew phones could harbour pathogens.”
Forced flu vaccination of healthcare workers is a misguided policy
Good intentions can only go so far when it comes to forced vaccinations. As more hospitals implement policies to protect their staff and patients with vaccines, they are really missing the mark, causing live virus shedding that is most dangerous to people with weakened immune systems on hospital beds.
Some hospitals are starting to require their staff to take up a yearly flu virus strain into their bodies – a virus strain that vaccine manufacturers and the CDC have deemed to be that year’s biggest threat. In the past two years, the CDC has admitted that they got it all wrong with the particular virus strain and the vaccines were deemed mostly ineffective. (The flu viruses are mutating faster than what can be predicted to be put in vaccines, leading to perpetual need for more vaccines.) Interestingly enough, the problematic virus being spread around in the hospital in this French study wasn’t even a flu virus at all; it was the rotavirus that was most pervasive.
This doesn’t mean that rotavirus vaccine mandates are the answer either. Rotavirus vaccines, for example, contain a live virus strain. This means, after being injected into a person and after being eliminated from their body, the virus sheds, spreading through body fluids such as feces, droplets from the nose, or saliva from the mouth. It wouldn’t be hard for a vaccinated person to spread the live virus strain from their body to their mobile device, and ultimately to unsuspecting hospital staff or patients.
Patients and staff vaccinated with live virus vaccines such as rotavirus or the flu vaccines are ultimately vectors of disease, capable of spreading vaccine attenuated virus strains to immune-compromised individuals. Spreading the viruses from body fluids to dirty cellphones, and from there to unsuspecting patients, hospital workers can become dangerous carriers of disease.