After studies and experts have pointed out that use of mobile phones inside hospitals, especially in critical areas, could become a source of spread of infections, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) is planning to instal equipment in operation theaters which will sanitise mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets. Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that in a study about mobile phones and pathogens, of the total participants, 81.8% had mobile phones and 80% hand swabs showed bacterial pathogen growth.
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On Tuesday, PGI officials said that the issue has already been discussed by the Institute’s infection control committee.
“We are aware of the problem,” Dr R K Sharma, head of department, plastic surgery, PGI, as well as chairman of its infection control committee told Chandigarh Newsline. “After the issue was discussed, and to prevent the problem, the Institute is planning to install equipment,” he said. “The idea is to sanitise the mobiles and other hand-held equipment of anyone who enters the operation theater. Initially, we are planning to install it in a few OT’s, and if it is successful, we can take the initiative further,” said Sharma.
According to the health ministry, following the ICMR flagging the issue, Directorate General of Health Services said, “There is risk of spread of infection with the same mobile phone set being handled by different people without taking proper precautions for hand hygiene.”
At PGI, microbiology experts said that infections spread by mobile phones are “horizontal transmission.”
“Everyone keeps mobiles in pockets. Even after you wash your hands, you again come in contact with the phone and then the patient it touched. The mobile is the carrier of the bacteria,” Dr Arunaloke Chakrabarti, HoD of microbiology, PGI, told Chandigarh Newsline.
Recently, a study conducted by the PGI found that the level of fungal spore burden in the air at the Institute was recorded higher than the accepted limits. Experts then said that corrective measures are required to end the problem.