No hand­shakes, please. We’re doc­tors

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

First, it was ties. Then it was white coats. Now, physi­cians are be­ing told hand­shakes with their pa­tients could be spread­ing dis­ease.

Dr. Mark Sk­lan­sky and col­leagues from the David Gef­fen School of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Los Angeles likened the health ben­e­fits of ban­ning hand­shakes from the health­care en­vi­ron­ment to bans on smok­ing in pub­lic spa­ces. has

Out­liers to say, that’s a bit harsh.

Their es­say was orig­i­nally posted on the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion web­site May 15, and it then ap­peared in print June 25—which co­in­ci­den­tally was the eve of Na­tional Hand­shake Day.

“Par­tic­u­larly in the cur­rent era of health­care re­form, in­no­va­tive, prac­ti­cal and fis­cally pru­dent ap­proaches to­ward the preven­tion of dis­ease will as­sume in­creas­ingly im­por­tant roles,” Sk­lan­sky and col­leagues wrote. “Reg­u­la­tions to re­strict the hand­shake from the health­care set­ting, in con­junc­tion with more ro­bust hand­hy­giene 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.”

It sounds as if they’re se­ri­ous. Then, as if to il­lus­trate the lengths some doc­tors may go to avoid wash­ing their hands, Sk­lan­sky and col­leagues even sug­gest post­ing signs ex­plain­ing that, “to pro­tect your health and the health of those around you,” the health­care set­ting had be­come a hand­shake-free zone.

Sug­gested re­place­ments for the hand­shake in­cluded plac­ing a hand over the heart, bow­ing, yoga’s “na­maste ges­ture,” or sim­ply wav­ing.

Wait! That hand­shake could be haz­ardous to your


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