Doctors' orders: Scrub and disinfect cell phones

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Mobile phones may cause more havoc in hospitals beyond the effects of sending and transmitting signals.

 At this week's annual meeting of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Israel, a study released from Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva found that 12 percent of healthcare providers' cell phones carried Acinetobacter baumannii. No, it isn't a new calling feature, but rather a germ known to cause in-hospital infections and resist many antibiotics.

Cell phones are a potential carrier, because the germ can survive on dry surfaces for long periods of time, said lead researcher Abraham Bower, M.D. The study also found the germ on 24 percent of healthcare providers' hands that researchers tested. Among that total were 71 physicians and 53 nurses.

 Acinetobacter baumannii commonly is found in intensive care units (ICUs). Bower said that while healthcare providers can - and do - wash, the germ can infest itself when doctors and nurses use cell phones.

 Because of the study results, Soroka University Medical Center now prohibits cell phones at the facility.