Which patient clipboard is more sanitary – wood or plastic?

In this week’s APIC Listserve, Kim Roberts posed a great Q…Which clipboard is more sanitary – wood or plastic/metal?
All answers received to date state that plastic/metal clipboards would be more hygienic than wood as the latter was porous and could not be as easily decontaminated as non-porous plastic/metal.
In this specific case I agree. Wooden clipboards are commonly made of compressed wood fibre and are usually quite porous.
The above conclusion is reasonable, but not evidence-based.
In fact the literature supports a contrary view – that wood is better.
In 1992 Kass et al found that Californian households using wooden chopping boards suffered Salmonella food poisoning at half the state average, and those using plastic boards were twice the state average.
Independent of Kass et al, in 1994 Ak, Cliver and Kaspar at Univ Wisconsin-Madison challenged wooden and plastic boards with pathogens and found they disappeared in a short time from wooden boards but persisted on plastic boards, Furthermore they found nicks in plastic boards were harder to disinfect.
Cliver, now at UC Davis, commented on both studies and concluded in 2005 that, “…wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.”
But I suspect the results with dense-wood chopping boards do not apply to porous fibre clipboards.

So keep writing on plastic and chopping on wood.

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