Fist Bumps Spread Fewer Germs than Handshakes
This image shows powder transferred during a handshake, to demonstrate that the custom is far less hygienic than the modern fist bump. (Prifysgol Aberystwyth University)
A fist bump is 20 times more hygienic than a traditional handshake, researchers report. Public health experts are urging handshakes to go the way of cigarettes, at least in healthcare settings. To fight the spread of germs, doctors should ditch the handshake and greet their patients with a fist bump instead, a new study says.
Practices that should disappear in health care settings
There are many practices that should disappear in health care settings, including hospitals and doctors’ offices. These include:
- Wearing a tie: How often does a tie get cleaned? Ties are full of germs.
- Unlaundered white coats: Health care workers change their clothes often, if not daily. But the white coat is put on over clothes, day after day, sometimes going unwashed for weeks. White coats (unless laundered regularly) are another source of germs.
- Long nails: Ever look beneath long nails? It is very difficult to keep them clean and free of germs.
- Jewelry on hands: Jewelry is seldom cleaned. Even when it is, anything but a simple wedding ring has nooks and crannies which may be hard to clean.
- Handshakes: These transfer 20 times as many germs than fist bumps.
- Working without enough sleep: Long shifts, rotating shifts, working the day after a night shift, working double shifts – the list goes on. When operating on insufficient sleep, people have more cognitive problems and make more mistakes.
I am sure other items can be added to this list. This list may apply in other settings also. However, in a medical setting, with medically acquired infections and medical errors being significant issues, this list is very important.
I no longer wear a tie, and fist bump my patients.