INTRODUCTION: Mobile phones have become indispensable accessories of both our social and professional lives. They increase the quality of healthcare by providing fast communication, and easy access to laboratory results, imaging and patients' files. Simultaneously however, they may act as vectors for potentially pathogenic micro-organisms and as such hold a potential risk for nosocomial infection.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the risk of mobile phones as vectors for nosocomial infection and the impact of disinfecting mobile phones on infection risks.
METHODS: The MEDLINE and Embase database were searched from January 2000 - January 2019 for a systematic review according to PRISMA guidelines. Eligible studies of any design were critically appraised by two independent reviewers.
RESULTS: We identified 50 studies, of which 12 were interventional. Data for a total of 5425 microbiological samples resulted in a prevalence of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms from 0% to 100%. The 2 most commonly found micro-organisms were coagulase-negative staphylococci (most commonly found in 30 studies) and Staphylococcus aureus (most commonly found in 10 studies). The frequency of microbial growth varied across studies.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of mobile phones by healthcare workers without proper disinfection may imply a risk for nosocomial infection. A direct relationship however, remains unproven. Healthcare workers are recommended to include proper handling of mobile phones in their 'classic' hand hygiene routine as proposed by the World Health Organisation.