Health care workers’ identity badges and lanyards could be harbouring dangerous bacteria and helping spread infections around hospitals, according to a report in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr Rhonda Stuart, an Infectious Diseases Physician at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, and her co-authors found that identity badges and lanyards were capable of harbouring bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The study found that lanyards were a greater threat than badges as they tended to harbour more infectious bacteria.

“Lanyards and identify badges are worn by both male and female clinical staff for long periods of time without cleaning,” said the authors.

“Their position at waist level and their pendulous nature increase the risk that they will become contaminated.”

The authors recommend regular disinfection of identity badges but stress that strict staff hand hygiene is the best way to prevent cross-infection.

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