PHOENIX, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- TV remote controls are the highest carriers of bacteria in hospital rooms, new research has found.
A study by Chuck Gerba, a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona, said TV remotes tend to convey more harmful microbes than toilet-bowl handles, bathroom doors or call buttons, among other hospital-room items.
Gerba said he found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on remote controls. The MRSA bacterium, which cannot be treated with antibiotics, is a leading cause of infection and death in hospitals.
The study involved 15 hospital rooms and, of 28 remotes tested, 20 had been used by multiple patients and eight were single-patient use.
He detected, on average, 320 different types of bacteria on TV remotes, compared to an average 91 in the rooms in general. Sites tested included hand rails, call buttons, tray tables, door knobs -- both in and out -- faucet handles and flush handles.
The also involved 20 samples of newly opened disposable remotes. In those cases, average total bacteria count was only 8.35.
A recent review published in the New England Journal of Medicine found hospital-patient infections are estimated to affect 2 million people, resulting in 90,000 deaths annually. Patients with hospital-acquired infections spend an average of 14 days in the hospital and account for more than $9.5 billion in excess medical bills.