ID Badges and Lanyards Appear To Have Low Risk of Viral Spread In Hospitals

Daryl R. Cheng, MBBS Monash Children's Hospital Victoria, Interview with:
Daryl R. Cheng, MBBS

Monash Children’s Hospital
Victoria, Australia


Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Inanimate objects worn and used by health care workers (HCW), such as neckties and stethoscopes,  have been shown to be reservoirs for potential pathogens. Of particular concern in the pediatric setting are identity (ID) badges and lanyards.

Many pediatric health care workers use them not only for
identification but also as a distraction tool during examination or procedures. Children have an increased tendency to place these items in their mouth as health care workers lean over to examine or care for them, therefore completing the chain of transmission for a potential nosocomial infection.

Whilst previous studies have demonstrated that ID badges and lanyards worn by health care workers may harbor pathogenic bacteria , there is paucity of comparative data suggesting that ID badges may be similarly contaminated with viral pathogens.

However, given the higher incidence of viral infections in pediatrics up to 50% of preterm infants screened during their hospital stay y had viruses detected in  their nasopharynx, further evaluation of the viral burden and potential for nosocomial transmission of  prevalent viruses are of both clinical and economic significance.

To our knowledge, this is the first study looking specifically at potential viral contamination of ID  badges and lanyards in a pediatric population. With only 1% of swabs returning a positive result, this  demonstrates that they are not likely to be significant vectors in the nosocomial transmission of common respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses. This low contamination rate is despite thestudy coinciding with the peak season for respiratory viruses in both years and also the tail end of the peak of gastrointestinal viruses, where a higher rate of background infection would imply higher risk of  transmission and hence colonization on fomites.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response:Although there is a theoretical risk of viral spread, our study determined that ID badges and lanyards  are not significantly contaminated with common respiratory or gastrointestinal viruses and are  unlikely to be a significant vector for nosocomial infection. However, our study was a cross‐sectional  study at two points in time, and was also limited by potential intersample variability.  Regardless of the results, the practice of appropriate and timely hand and equipment   hygiene remains the most effective way of preventing nosocomial infection and spread of bacterial or viral  pathogens from one person or surface to another.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response:Further comprehensive studies need to be completed to shed further light on his important  this healthcare area especially given the potential impact on hospital stay and spread of   noscomial infections. Future studies with larger sample sizes in multiple settings that also include artificially  contaminated ID badges and lanyards as controls would also be helpful.


 Are identity badges and lanyards in pediatrics potentially contaminated with viral pathogens?

Chun Yi Ting · Daryl R Cheng · Despina Kotsanas · Carl D Kirkwood · Nada Bogdanovic-Sakran · Rhonda L Stuart · Jim P Buttery

American journal of infection control 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.ajic.2015.06.024

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