By means of sensors installed at taps of gas station restrooms, researchers observed nearly 200,000 persons in a new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The study found that just 32 percent of men and 64 percent of women washed their hands after using the toilet. That’s right, read it and gasp 32/ 64. Twice as many women wash their hands, and even then it’s fewer than 2 out of three women! And this is just toilet behavior. It doesn’t cover the accumulation of bacteria and viruses spread by sneezing, nose-blowing or holding on to that super sweet hand rail in the subway car.
If you aren’t washing your hands, maybe it won’t bother you that your doctor isn’t either. Michael Millenson, writing in The Health Care Blog points readers to a year-long multi medical center study released in October through The American Journal of Medical Quality. Researchers found ICU docs follow hand hygiene protocols even less often than guys wash their hands in public restrooms, with a mere 26% compliance rate.
Millenson notes, “The World Health Organization estimates that health care-associated infections affect as many as 1.7 million patients in the United States each year, cost $6.5 billion and contribute to more than 90,000 deaths annually.”
Yikes stripes people! Germs on your hands infect you through your eyes, mouth, and any teensy cuts in your skin. If you feel nonchalant about the risks to your own health, don’t forget your unclean hands can leave colds, flu, MSRA, hepatitis A, tuberculosis on every surface, doorknob, and toothpaste cap for your spouse and kids.
Wash your hands. Use soup. Sing happy birthday while you’re at it to allow the Mayo Clinic’s recommended 20 seconds to elapse before you rinse.
Then go ahead and enjoy your sandwich, sushi, or .
You can read The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine study at The American Journal of Public Health
Read Michael Millenson
The Health Care Blog: Docs Wash Hands Like Guys In Gas Station Bathroom
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