The Dirtiest Places in a Hospital

Note: the results are from one study at one hospital. The time of year could also be a factor…

The shocking news is that “Elevator buttons had higher colonization rates than toilet surfaces in the same buildings”.

When other studies are compared, it seems even worse are computer keyboards and ultrasound transducers – however the typical visitor is far less likely to touch those items. Almost everyone uses the elevator.

Although the prevalence of colonization of elevator buttons in our study was lower than that for computer keyboards and ultrasound transducers in previous studies, patients remain at potential risk of cross-contamination because of the frequent use of these buttons by diverse individuals. In addition, a visitor is more likely to come into contact with an elevator button or a toilet than with inanimate hospital equipment and may transmit organisms if interacting with inpatients.

Consequently the researchers have suggested a few solutions:

  • alcohol-based hand sanitizers available near elevators
  • enlarge the elevator buttons so people can push them with their elbows
  • make the elevator experience touchless using voice controls or motion sensors

One more option is available to everyone, everywhere. Wear gloves.