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Title: Determination of the infection risks posed by the use of mobile technology in healthcare settings
Author: White, Stephen Alan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 3197
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2017
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There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people, and numbers are increasing. Immediate access to technology has completely permeated everyday life, and for many people their mobile devices are an indispensable accessory that accompanies them everywhere, including the bathroom. Mobile devices can harbour pathogenic microorganisms on their surfaces, that can survive for days, before potentially being transferred onto hands or other objects that they come into contact with. These devices are also rarely decontaminated. Whilst these microorganisms are generally not of concern to the healthy adult, they may be to the very young, the elderly, and those with reduced immunity. This study determined if mobile devices can be used in the healthcare setting and not be an infection risk. A six-stage mixed methodology approach was employed, with laboratory investigations into the contamination on mobile devices, the efficiency of transfer from them, and the effectiveness of decontamination methods. Analysis of existing NHS mobile device policy and application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point process to perioperative practice provided real-world perspective. The findings from this study identified that current literature is under-reporting the contamination on mobile devices, and determined that the bacterial presence is transient, not constant. Transfer efficiency of up to 79% was recorded for Staphylococcus aureus from a device onto a wet gloved hand, and observation of perioperative practice identified five hazards specific to the presence of a device, that could become a risk to patient safety, but could be managed through application of Critical Control Points. This study also found that over 40% of NHS organisations in mainland UK do not have a mobile device policy, and only 11% make any reference to their infection prevention and control. Testing of decontamination methods determined that a two-stage process of wiping with a dry lint-free cloth, followed by exposure to UV-C, was the only approach that effectively reduced contamination levels without contradicting manufacturers’ guidance and thus voiding the device warranty. Optimum criteria for mobile device policy, and suggestions for in-context application, are proposed.
Supervisor: Bissell, Paul Sponsor: Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority ; Human and Health Sciences School Innovation Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine