If you are a clinician who uses a tablet or smartphone in the clinical setting, have you thought about the germs that are living on the device? Researchers at the Hannover Medical School have. They developed the deBac-app, an iOS application that works as an interactive cleaning guide for the iPad. After launching the application, the user is guided through a step-by-step cleaning process. After each step, the event is logged with the time and date. The application is available for free in the Apple App Store. As it stands, device hygiene among healthcare workers is pitiful. The study references a 2009 survey that found of the 53% healthcare workers who carried a mobile device, 80% of the PDAs, 85% of the mobile phones, and 96% of the pagers had never been cleaned by the owner. The researchers recently published a paper that tested the effectiveness of their application and published it in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The researchers randomly distributed 10 iPads to nurses in various wards of the Hannover Medical School for a four week period. The researchers recommended that users use the app to disinfect their devices at the beginning of each work day as well as when any obvious contamination had occurred. After four weeks of use, samples were taken from 13 different contact points on the tablets and analyzed for microbiological growth. They found a significant amount of gram positive and gram negative colony-forming units, 1842 and 9 respectively. The main bacterial found were staphylococci and micrococci. The researchers then cleaned nine of the iPads using isopropanol wipes and the process guided by the deBac-app and tested them again. The study found that when the devices were cleaned with the standardized cleaning procedure detailed in the deBac-app, microbes were reduced by 98.1%. Clearly the nurses in the study were not following the recommended cleaning schedule. Based on the results, the researchers recommend healthcare workers disinfect mobile devices used in the clinical setting be disinfected with the deBac-app method once a day, preferably at the beginning of their shift. They also recommend disinfecting mobile devices after they have been used in a patient room under isolation precautions or subject to any other obvious contamination. The results also reinforce the importance of good hand hygiene. After all, most of the pathogens found on the devices came from the user’s hands. The results of the study are pretty convincing. Does your facility have a policy or a standard procedure with regards to disinfecting mobile devices? What about hand hygiene?