File image: Hands clasped. Pexels

HOSPITALS should ban handshakes and encourage ‘fist bumps' as an alternative greeting, experts say.
The gesture – popular among teenagers, sportsmen and even former US president Barack Obama – spreads fewer germs than shaking hands and it is hoped this might slow the rise of potentially deadly drug-resistant superbugs.
Handshakes have already been banned in two hospitals in Los Angeles after a trial by paediatrics professor Dr Mark Sklansky – and experts say British hospitals should follow suit. But others dismissed the idea, arguing it is more important to focus on thorough hand-washing instead. Dr Sklansky, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said stopping shaking hands was ‘the most obvious and easiest' way to minimise hospital-acquired infections.
Dr David Whitworth, a microbiologist at Aberystwyth University in Wales, agreed, saying there are so many hospital-acquired infections that ‘even a slight reduction could save many lives'. If nothing else, a handshake ban raises awareness of the risk of spreading infections, he added. Maureen Shawn Kennedy, editor of the American Journal of Nursing, said: ‘Just because someone is in a white coat doesn't mean they don't have bacteria on their hands.'
But Herbert Fred, editor of the Texas Heart Institute Journal, said: ‘The problem isn't the handshake: it's the hand-shaker. If we ban the handshake, we might as well ban the physical examination. Both practices can spread germs.'
Whitworth conducted a study in 2014 that found a firm handshake was the least hygienic greeting, passing on twice as much bacteria as a high five and ten times more than a fist bump.

© Daily Mail