Tablet computers are increasingly being used in hospital patient care and are often colonized with important human pathogens, while the impact of disinfection interventions remains controversial.
In a prospective hygiene intervention study we consecutively sampled tablet computers exclusively used in a high-resource general internal medicine tertiary care setting with high routine hygiene measures. Our aim was to examine the change in colonizing bacteria on tablet computers before and after the introduction of a mandatory twice daily tablet disinfection intervention. Microbial identification was performed by conventional culture, and the association of bacterial colonization with the intervention was investigated using logistic regression.
In a total of 168 samples we identified colonizing bacteria in 149 (89%) of samples. While the most commonly identified species were normal skin bacteria, found in 18 (11%) of samples was the most frequent potential pathogen. We did not detect any Enterococci or Enterobacteriaceae. The disinfection intervention was associated with substantially less overall bacterial colonization (odds ratio 0.16; 95%-CI 0.04-0.56), while specific colonization with was only slightly decreased (odds ratio 0.46; 95%-CI 0.16-1.29).
Our results indicate that a twice daily disinfection can still substantially reduce bacterial colonization of in-hospital tablet computers used in a high-resource and high hygiene setting.