Researchers are calling for doctors to give up the practice of shaking patient’s hands as they say that it’s as harmful as smoking in public.
A new and controversial report has called for the ban after UCLA research findings.
-- Advertisement --
The researchers claim that even though the handshake is a ‘deeply established cultural custom,’ it can spread disease between patients.
The team adds: ‘Some parallels may be drawn between the proposal to remove the handshake from the health care setting and previous efforts to ban smoking from public places.’
Team leader Mark Sklansky, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association said:
‘In recent years there has been increasing recognition of the importance of hands as vectors for infection, leading to formal recommendations and policies regarding hand hygiene in hospitals and other health care facilities.’
The report argues that the hands of health care workers become contaminated with pathogens from their patients, and, despite efforts to limit the spread of disease, cross-contamination commonly occurs through routine patient and environmental contact.
The study has called for the popular gesture to be replaced by something else – which does not require germ-spreading contact.
The study says: ‘Regulations to restrict the handshake from the health care setting, in conjunction with more robust hand hygiene programs, may help limit the spread of disease and thus could potentially decrease the clinical and economic burden associated with hospital-acquired infections and antimicrobial resistance.’
The team are calling for something else – like a wave or a bow – to replace the handshake.
Although the handshake would be missed for society the team say: ‘Nevertheless, removing the handshake from the health care setting may ultimately become recognized as an important way to protect the health of patients and caregivers, rather than as a personal insult to whoever refuses another’s hand.
‘Given the tremendous social and economic burden of hospital-acquired infections and antimicrobial resistance, and the variable success of current approaches to hand hygiene in the health care environment, it would be a mistake to dismiss, out of hand, such a promising, intuitive, and affordable ban.’