Hospital Elevator Buttons More Germy Than Bathrooms

Hospital elevator buttons are commonly colonized by bacteria, and have a higher prevalence of colonization than bathroom surfaces, according to research published in Open Medicine.

Researchers swabbed 120 elevator buttons — both interior floor buttons and exterior up and down buttons — and 96 bathroom surfaces in three tertiary care hospitals in Toronto.

Prevalence of bacteria colonization on elevator buttons was 61 percent as opposed to the 43 percent prevalence on toilet surfaces. However, most of the bacteria were not clinically relevant, they found.

The risk of transmitting pathogens via elevator buttons can be mitigated by simple countermeasures, according to the researchers. They suggested strategically placing alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers inside and outside elevators and increasing public education about hand hygiene for people who frequently use the elevators. Making elevator buttons large enough to allow pressing them with elbows could also cut down on pathogen transmission.

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