Blog | Thursday, June 5, 2014

Food for thought

A few months ago I blogged about a study that explored the biologic plausibility for replacing the handshake with the fist bump from an infection prevention standpoint. Now there’s a new opinion piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association (free full text here) by a group of pediatricians at UCLA, which raises the issue of whether hospitals should become handshake-free zones.

The authors propose alternatives to the handshake, such as the hand wave, the hand over the heart, the bow, and the Namaste gesture. I suspect that many will scoff at this recommendation, but I think we need to be open-minded and critically look at all potential mechanisms of transmission in the health care setting.

I find it very interesting how high tech solutions to infection transmission seem to be all the rage, even when they’re ridiculously expensive and marginally effective, while very simple potential strategies are quickly dismissed.

Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Richmond, Va., with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.