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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 429780, 8 pages
Research Article

Environmental Contaminants in Hospital Settings and Progress in Disinfecting Techniques

1Laboratory of Environmental Hygiene, University of Siena, Italy
2Post Graduate School in Public Health, University of Siena, Italy
3Teaching Hospital “Le Scotte,” Hospital Direction, Siena, Italy

Received 30 April 2013; Accepted 17 September 2013

Academic Editor: Marc Léone

Copyright © 2013 Gabriele Messina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Medical devices, such as stethoscopes, and other objects found in hospital, such as computer keyboards and telephone handsets, may be reservoirs of bacteria for healthcare-associated infections. In this cross-over study involving an Italian teaching hospital we evaluated microbial contamination (total bacterial count (TBC) at 36°C/22°C, Staphylococcus spp., moulds, Enterococcus spp., Pseudomonas spp., E. coli, total coliform bacteria, Acinetobacter spp., and Clostridium difficile) of these devices before and after cleaning and differences in contamination between hospital units and between stethoscopes and keyboards plus handsets. We analysed 37 telephone handsets, 27 computer keyboards, and 35 stethoscopes, comparing their contamination in four hospital units. Wilcoxon signed-rank and Mann-Whitney tests were used. Before cleaning, many samples were positive for Staphylococcus spp. and coliforms. After cleaning, CFUs decreased to zero in most comparisons. The first aid unit had the highest and intensive care the lowest contamination ( ). Keyboards and handsets had higher TBC at 22°C ( ) and mould contamination ( ) than stethoscopes. Healthcare professionals should disinfect stethoscopes and other possible sources of bacterial healthcare-associated infections. The cleaning technique used was effective in reducing bacterial contamination. Units with high patient turnover, such as first aid, should practise stricter hygiene.