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Should fist bumps replace handshaking in healthcare?

Should fist bumps replace handshaking in healthcare?

This article made us chuckle, I can’t really see this happening but can you imagine doctors, nurses, GP’s etc all going round doing this.

Shaking hands should be replaced by “fist bumps” in healthcare settings to prevent the spread of bacteria.

This is being proposed by a group of researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. They reached their conclusion following a study in which two healthcare workers were asked to wash their hands and then shake them with 20 other hospital employees. The two workers then rewashed their hands and bumped fists with 20 others.

Agar plates were taken of their palms after the first stage of the study, and the fronts of their fists were then plated after the “fist bumps”.

Researchers discovered four times as many bacterial colonies on the workers’ palm plates as on the fist plates. “Implementing the fist bump in healthcare settings may further reduce bacterial transmission between healthcare providers by reducing contact time and total surface area exposed when compared with the standard handshake,” wrote the study authors.

Looking at alternative greetings to the handshake is not a new phenomenon. Two years ago on this website we reported a suggestion by a California virus expert that we should touch elbows – or perhaps even take a bow – to help prevent the spread of germs.

According to Nathan Wolfe of Stanford University: “Touching elbows rather than hands would help to decrease the spread of some infectious agents in the same way that sneezing into an elbow, rather than in a hand, does.” Another suggestion he made was to follow the Japanese example by bowing as a form of greeting.

However, all studies show that washing and drying the hands thoroughly – preferably between each hand contact – will greatly reduce any risk of cross-contamination.

On a more serious note though our  range of hand sanitiser gels are designed to combat infection and the spread of germs.

About Matt Petty

Matt Petty is Operations Manager at Mill Sales Direct Ltd | The UK's Leading Supplier of Cleaning & Disposable Products

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