EMF

Fomite
Pronunciation: \"primarystress\"f\"omacr\"-\"secondarystress\"m\"imacr\"t
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural fo·mites /-\"secondarystress\"m\"imacr\"ts; \"primarystress\"fäm-\"schwa\"-\"secondarystress\"t\"emacron\"z, \"primarystress\"f\"omacr\"m-/
: an inanimate object (as a dish, toy, book, doorknob, or clothing) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission <the much maligned toilet seat is a remarkably ineffective fomite — M. F. Rein> <what are the most common fomites for rotavirus in day-care settings — Pediatric Report\’s Child Health Newsletter> (from Merriam Webster)

There was a study done recently regarding the cleanliness of computer keyboards (from Science Daily):

ScienceDaily (2005-04-18) — Some potentially harmful bacteria can survive for prolonged periods of time on the keyboards and keyboard covers of computers, a study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital has found. Gary A. Noskin, MD, who is medical director of healthcare epidemiology and quality at Northwestern Memorial and who led the study, advises periodic cleaning of computer equipment and hand washing after every computer use.

"The problem is especially important in hospitals and other healthcare environments where patients are at risk of contracting bacterial infections from healthcare providers who use computers," Dr. Noskin says. He presented his findings at the 15th Annual Scientific Session of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) in Los Angeles this week, and the study generated coverage from various news outlets including CNN, the Chicago Sun-Times and Reuters.

Noskin and his colleagues studied bacteria commonly found in the hospital environment. To determine the ability of bacteria to survive on computer keyboards, the researchers inoculated the equipment with three types of bacteria: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PSAE). VRE and MRSA are examples of bacterial strains that have developed resistance to the antibiotics (including vancomyin and methicillin) commonly used on them. Although VRE and PSAE seldom cause problems except in hospitalized patients whose immune systems are compromised by other disease or illness, recent outbreaks of MRSA skin infections in otherwise healthy persons (community-acquired MRSA) have raised concern among infectious disease experts.

 

\"churchseats\" I believe in Electronic Medical Records.  I believe they can save lives if used properly through better care.  We have been using EMR for the past 12+ years with terminals in every exam room.

While it is common to worry about patient contact with the computer and access to data (or little kids turning it off), I have honestly never considered the cesspool we may harbor in each room.  There are moments when I am tempted to swat people with the keyboard, but the risk this may expose patients to needs to be considered by anyone with an EMR.

Afraid of toilet seats?  Be more afraid of keyboards.

I see an opportunity for an entrepreneur here:  make a washable keyboard and market it to hospitals and doctors.  We really don\’t need Electronic Medical Fomites.

Perhaps we need a sign that says:  Employees must wash their hands after touching the keyboard.

24 thoughts on “EMF”

  1. Actually most keyboards are washable. You just have to let them dry before returning them to service (i.e. turning the electricity back on).
    As long as the power is off, mild soap and plain water is harmless. What electronic components don’t like are caustic or corrosive liquids like soda pop.

    Same goes for toilet seats. Let them dry before turning the electricity back on. πŸ™‚

  2. Actually most keyboards are washable. You just have to let them dry before returning them to service (i.e. turning the electricity back on).
    As long as the power is off, mild soap and plain water is harmless. What electronic components don’t like are caustic or corrosive liquids like soda pop.

    Same goes for toilet seats. Let them dry before turning the electricity back on. πŸ™‚

  3. The Laundress

    Not sure if this is true — but I have read that you can run keyboards safely through your dishwasher because they contain no electronics? Obviously, not laptops. Not the washing machine. But the keyboard? What do you think?
    I work in a public library. At night, I shut down many terminals, one at a time. Never bothered me until a co-worker pointed out that the WARM computer mice were icky. Be even more afraid of The Mouse (since most web-users just click away, precious little keyboarding is going on…)

    Your pal with perfect hygeine,
    tl

  4. The Laundress

    Not sure if this is true — but I have read that you can run keyboards safely through your dishwasher because they contain no electronics? Obviously, not laptops. Not the washing machine. But the keyboard? What do you think?
    I work in a public library. At night, I shut down many terminals, one at a time. Never bothered me until a co-worker pointed out that the WARM computer mice were icky. Be even more afraid of The Mouse (since most web-users just click away, precious little keyboarding is going on…)

    Your pal with perfect hygeine,
    tl

  5. I guess I should qualify my above advice. I’m not suggesting that you immerse the keyboard in water. But if some gets inside when you’re washing the outside surface, it won’t hurt anything as long as you let it dry out completely before turning it back on.

  6. I guess I should qualify my above advice. I’m not suggesting that you immerse the keyboard in water. But if some gets inside when you’re washing the outside surface, it won’t hurt anything as long as you let it dry out completely before turning it back on.

  7. Hmmm. Just read Laundress’ comment. I don’t know about using the dishwasher. It might be alright, but I wouldn’t do it. The heat would worry me as much as anything.
    There are electronic components in all the keyboards I’ve worked on. They (resisters, transistors, ic chips, etc.) are sealed and therefore, water proof. The danger is with water shorting out contacts between components when the power is on… and possible corrosion if water gets into connectors and switches. (Which is why I wouldn’t immerse the keyboard.)

  8. Hmmm. Just read Laundress’ comment. I don’t know about using the dishwasher. It might be alright, but I wouldn’t do it. The heat would worry me as much as anything.
    There are electronic components in all the keyboards I’ve worked on. They (resisters, transistors, ic chips, etc.) are sealed and therefore, water proof. The danger is with water shorting out contacts between components when the power is on… and possible corrosion if water gets into connectors and switches. (Which is why I wouldn’t immerse the keyboard.)

  9. So when my doc checks my cervical lymph nodes, I have keyboard
    Instead of just washable keyboards, how about autoclave safe ones? Steril keyboard…

  10. So when my doc checks my cervical lymph nodes, I have keyboard
    Instead of just washable keyboards, how about autoclave safe ones? Steril keyboard…

  11. Sigh, I forgot to finish typing my first sentence. What I meant to say was
    …I have keyboard yuck on me?

  12. Sigh, I forgot to finish typing my first sentence. What I meant to say was
    …I have keyboard yuck on me?

  13. As Dean says in the general sense.
    For outre, if your doc is working in his surgery, rather than in a shared clinic, (s)he’s probably the only one who uses that keyboard, so as long as they sterilise their hands between patients, you should be ok.

    (IT professional’s view, not binding or intended to over-ride the medical profession).

  14. As Dean says in the general sense.
    For outre, if your doc is working in his surgery, rather than in a shared clinic, (s)he’s probably the only one who uses that keyboard, so as long as they sterilise their hands between patients, you should be ok.

    (IT professional’s view, not binding or intended to over-ride the medical profession).

  15. I am just going to try to use “safe typing” instead of the condom idea. We are going to change our policy and disinfect our keyboards daily as result of this article. Even though it is “safe” to run your keyboard through a dishwasher (there is an article on BoingBoing that talks about this), it is impractical to do this daily for disinfection. We are probably going to use some sort of wipe on a daily basis.

  16. I am just going to try to use “safe typing” instead of the condom idea. We are going to change our policy and disinfect our keyboards daily as result of this article. Even though it is “safe” to run your keyboard through a dishwasher (there is an article on BoingBoing that talks about this), it is impractical to do this daily for disinfection. We are probably going to use some sort of wipe on a daily basis.

  17. this post prompted me to get out the pine- sol and hot water and scrub mine. Q-tips work good for getting in between the keys. Lysol spray, don’t forget the lysol…I have used it many times on my keyboard so I know it will not hurt them..
    I agree with everyone else…This new spam thingy sucks, Dr. Rob!

  18. this post prompted me to get out the pine- sol and hot water and scrub mine. Q-tips work good for getting in between the keys. Lysol spray, don’t forget the lysol…I have used it many times on my keyboard so I know it will not hurt them..
    I agree with everyone else…This new spam thingy sucks, Dr. Rob!

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