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