North Texas Cellphone Contamination Initiative: Validation of a Novel Survey Tool for Cellphone Use by Healthcare Workers




Reynolds, Conner
Lindsley, Joshua
Jowitt, Janet
Ingram, Aubrey
Li, Jeffrey
Sankar, Aparna
Perez, Aaron
Wolstein, Austin
Williams, Trevor
Gelinas, Lillee


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Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 251,000 lives annually. Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) account for nearly 40% of this population, costing the healthcare system $28.4-33.8 billion each year. Current efforts monitoring sources of HAI have set their focus on device-associated infections. Yet, in a recent Multistate Point Prevalence Survey of Health Care-Associated Infections, device-associated HAI only accounted for 25.6% of instances detected. The rising prevalence of cellphone usage by health professionals has prompted researchers to target cellphones as potential vectors for infectious transmission in healthcare. In Phase 1 of the North Texas Cellphone Contamination Initiative (NTCCI), we surveyed 169 health professional students about their cellphone use behavior and swabbed 101 cellphones using EnSURE ATP Luminometer. Our findings demonstrated that health professional students are utilizing their cellphones in the restroom and washing their hands afterwards, but often neglect to clean their phones. This behavior leads to an overall contamination level exceeding previously established cleanliness benchmarks for healthcare environments by 3-to-17 fold. To begin NTCCI Phase 2, we piloted a new survey with 69 healthcare workers to establish a baseline for cellphone use in clinics. This survey was then validated using principal components analysis (PCA) and measures of internal consistency. Our next steps will include increasing the sample size of healthcare workers, as well as ATP Luminometry and bacterial culturing of cellphone surfaces.