Wristwatches as the Potential Sources of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Dr. Velvizhi G., M.D. (Micro), Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Tirunelveli Medical College, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu - 627 011. Phone: 94429 51572; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Nosocomial pathogens can survive on inanimate surfaces for long periods of time. Therefore, the personal items which are used by HCWs such as mobile phones, wristwatches and pens can be continuous sources for the transmission of infections in the absence of regular surface disinfection practices. Aims: The aim of the study was to measure the rate of bacterial hand and wrist contamination, particularly that which was caused by Staphylococcus aureus, amongst healthcare workers (HCWs) who wore wristwatches.
Methods and Materials: The wrists and the hands of hospital-based healthcare workers (HCWs) were sampled for bacterial contamination in two consecutive, cross-sectional cohort studies of wristwatch wearers and non-wristwatch wearers. In the first study, the wrists were sampled by using skin swabs and the hands were sampled by direct plate inoculation. In the second study, the wrists were sampled after each HCW removed the watch immediately prior to the sampling.
Results: Staphylococcus aureus was found on the hands of 64% wristwatch wearers and 36% non-wristwatch wearers in the first study. The watch wearers had higher counts of bacteria on their wrists than on their hands. In the second study, the removal of the watch prior to the sampling resulted in increased counts of bacteria on both the hands as well as on the watch wrist as compared to that in the non-watch wearers. Wearing a wristwatch results in an increase in the bacterial contamination on the wrist, but excess hand contamination does not occur unless the watch is manipulated.
Conclusions: Wearing a wristwatch results in an increase in the bacterial contamination on the wrist, but excess hand contamination does not occur unless the watch is manipulated.This study emphasizes the importance of increased hand hygiene compliance and the surface disinfection of the personal items which are used by the HCWs. The regular surface disinfection of these items and also regular hand washing can contribute to a reduction in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens in the health care setting.