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REPORT: Shaking Hands, Public Smoking Share Dangers

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A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association advises doctors and staff at health care facilities to avoid shaking hands. UCLA researchers who penned the report even compare shaking hands to smoking. 

"Although the mortality associated with smoking has been found to be substantially greater than that associated with hospital-acquired infections, some parallels may be drawn between the proposal to remove the handshake from the health care setting and previous efforts to ban smoking from public places."

Researchers do note if doctors and staff avoid shaking hands it could affect the perception of patients, possibly leading them to think medical workers lack empathy and compassion, leading to a loss of business. But the benefits for both patient and doctor could outweigh the risks of transmitting germs from patient to patient. 

"The hands of health care workers often serve as vectors for transmission of organisms and disease. Health care workers' hands become contaminated with pathogens from their patients, and, despite efforts to limit the spread of disease, cross-contamination of health care workers' hands commonly occurs through routine patient and environmental contact."

Even the practice of "fist bumping" was shown to be less likely to cross-contaminate people with bacteria than handshakes. 

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