Should the handshake be banned in healthcare?

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

June 4, 2014

There may be no better gesture in our culture that says “good to see you” than the handshake.
 
But according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it may be better for patient safety to leave that gesture outside of healthcare to prevent the hand-to-hand transfer of infectious germs between providers and patients.
 
In fact, in a report published in Outpatient Surgery Magazine, three physicians from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles are proposing that alternative methods of greetings be used in hospitals, surgical centers and office practices. These places would be designated "handshake-free zones," in which open-handed waves, bowed heads, hands-over-the-heart and yoga-style "Namaste" gestures would become the custom.
 
The report also mentions that researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine found that a “fist-bump” between providers was less likely to transfer bacteria than a handshake. The report concludes that removing handshakes from the medical environment is admittedly a long shot, the benefits are worth further consideration.