Want to control in-hospital infection? Keep your hands to yourself

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Patients entering the supposedly sterile environment of a hospital may not realize that at least one in 25 patients acquire an infection while in the facility. To reduce these infections, Mark Sklansky, MD, suggests everyone leave the handshakes at home.

"If I am at a computer terminal or using a phone or opening a door, I know my hands are now contaminated, and I need to be careful and I need to wash my hands," said Sklansky, a professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We are trying to do everything to minimize hospital-acquired infection except for the most obvious and easiest thing to do, in my opinion, which is to stop shaking hands.”

He doesn't believe this is a substitute for handwashing, but reducing handshakes could help control the spread of infection.

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