The COVID-19 pandemic has made health care workers and average citizens acutely aware of the transmissibility of deadly viruses. But have we gone beyond washing our hands before and after each patient encounter, a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for over 30 years? (J Hosp Infect 2019;101:383-92).

Fomites are inanimate objects, such as clothes or bedding, that may harbor pathogens. Fomites do not transmit SARS-CoV-2 (J Infect Dis May 2022). Fomites may transmit Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, clostridium difficile, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (Appl Environ Microbiol 2007;73:1687-96; BMC Infect Dis 2018;18:540; Curr Infect Dis Rep 2018;20:12). Up to 30% of stethoscopes, white coats, mobile devices, and neckties may be contaminated (Epidemiol 2016;37:1367-73). When was the last time you sterilized your pen?

Cell phones may be the biggest offenders. Cell phones travel from home to office to clinic to OR. Warm crevasses in phones and their covers afford ample opportunity to harbor pathogens, including VRE and MRSA (J Hosp Infect 2020;104:207-13).

Disinfectant wipes are useful for cleaning surfaces. The surface must remain wet for several minutes to ensure viricidal or germicidal ferocity (Int J Pharm 2021;609:121139; Appl Environ Microbiol 2019;85:e01090-19). Thirty seconds of ultraviolet C light can disinfect handheld devices like mobile phones (Am J Infect Control 2021;49:1292-4). Education of health care workers is crucial to prevent pathogenic transmission from fomites (Am J Infect Control 2021;49:104-14).

As you randomly scroll through your cell phone during an operation, remember that breaking the chain of infection starts with you.