Could Computers be an Infectious Risk?

My dad works a lot with Health Informatics, and is very involved in the digitalising of South African health care systems, especially when it comes to tele-health.

Recently, one of his colleagues mentioned something genius in its simplicity:

There has been a big push to computerise the administration of hospital wards – and with good reason. Even in rural South African hospitals, there are several large mobile computers (we call them COWs – computers on wheels) to be found in wards.

So, what does a computer consist of? A screen, sure, some network cables… and a central processing unit with a motherboard, which generates heat. Lots of heat.

Because of that, it also has a fan. And this fan draws air inwards to cool the CPU down.

I have a point, stay with me here:

Hospitals, as we know, are full of sick people. Obviously. And by far the greatest percentage of those are infectious diseases. And where do most of those pathogens thrive (apart from inside humans)?

In nice warm environments.

In the normal office, this is not such a problem. But in a hospital, where many different pathogens congregate, creating such a comfortable environment for bacteria is nothing short of ludicrous.

It would be interesting if sombeody did some sort of study on this. I’m sure someone in my dad’s department will, in due time. I know for sure that I don’t want to expose my patients (especially not the immuno-compromised ones) to such an onslaught.

I know that in more privileged countries, tablets are becoming the new best way for digital solutions in hospital.

Could this perhaps be the safest way out?

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