Radiologist Workstations Covered With Bacteria

Radiologist workstations have more bacteria than do nearby toilet seats and doorknobs.

Dictation microphones and computer mice in radiologist workstations are teeming with bacteria that could be easily removed, say researchers in a study that was published in the Journal of American Radiology.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis undertook a study to quantify and characterize bacterial contamination of radiologist workstations. To do this, they took samples from dictation microphones and computer mice at the most frequently used workstations at two inpatient and two outpatient reading rooms at two hospitals. The findings were compared with samples obtained from toilet seats and doorknobs located in four restrooms closest to the reading rooms. Samples were taken from the microphones and computer mice before and after they were wiped with a commercially available antiseptic cloth.

The researchers found that the samples from the computer workstation and restroom sites were all contaminated with bacteria -but much more bacteria was present on the workstation microphones and computer mice than on the toilet seats and doorknobs.

Mean colony counts before the sites were wiped with the antiseptic were 69.4, with a range of 15 to 123; for the microphones; 46.1, with a range of one to 183 for the computer mice; 10.5, with a range of one to 22 for the toilet seats; and 14.8, with a range of one to 36 for the doorknobs. After the antiseptic, the microphone and mouse bacterial counts dropped drastically from 76.9 to 0.3.

The authors concluded that the clinical implications of their findings merited further study, noting, “Simple, rapid, and inexpensive disinfection techniques nearly completely eradicate workstation bacterial contamination.”