There are a variety of concerns that are associated with shaking hands in a medical office. Since doctors and nurses are in contact with many patients throughout the day, taking measures to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses is essential. Contact with hands during a handshake can result in spreading bacteria from one patient to another, which causes illnesses to spread.
Alternatives to Shaking Hands
Since a handshake has been proven to spread bacteria and viruses, discussions regarding alternatives that may be appropriate have arisen. Fortunately, there are alternatives that can help reduce the spread of bacteria so that the risk of spreading illnesses will reduce.
A fist bump, which involves lightly bumping the fist of a patient’s hand with your own fist, has a low rate of transferring bacteria to the hands of the physician and other patients. Studies have shown that a handshake will transfer roughly 10 times the number of bacteria and viruses when compared to a fist bump. A let’s face it, fist bumping is the ‘in’ thing these days.
Although a fist bump is appropriate, a high-five is also an alternative that may be appropriate. A high five will still result in some transfer of bacteria, but the amount is roughly 2 times less when compared to a handshake due to the limited contact with the hands.
Avoiding Hand Contact
Medical professionals come in contact with many patients throughout the day, so it can be a smart decision to avoid touching the hands of patients as a general rule. Some medical practices have made the decision to ban handshakes, high-fives and other forms of contact with the hands to avoid or limit the risk of spreading bacteria.
Although it can be helpful to limit the spread of sicknesses, it is not always possible to avoid contact with patients and some individuals may feel uncomfortable when a doctor does not give any physical greeting. Physicians should be aware that avoiding handshakes or other forms of a greeting can result in the loss of patients who may feel that the reception is too cold.
Encourage Patients to Wash Their Hands
Ultimately, the decision to use a fist bump, handshake or high-five in a medical practice is the decision of a physician. Regardless of the final decision, doctors should always encourage patients to wash their hands rigorously and regularly to limit the spread of sicknesses.
Some patients may not be able to avoid physical greetings due to their professions or their normal activities. By encouraging them to wash their hands regularly throughout the day and to wash their hands shortly after a handshake, you can help reduce the spread of sickness outside the medical practice.
It is a proven fact that a handshake can spread bacteria and viruses, but that does not mean it is necessary to completely eliminate physical greetings in a medical practice. A fist bump is a safe alternative that limits the spread of sicknesses and still offers a warm welcome to patients. When combined with instructions on how to wash their hands to kill or remove bacteria, it can help reduce the risk of spreading sicknesses.
Last Updated on July 23, 2014