The handshake has long been a social tradition. Across the globe people shake hands. They do it in greeting, congratulating, thanking, appreciating, confirming and departing. Now in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association there is talk of banning the handshake in the healthcare environment.
The reason that JAMA is suggesting a ban on shaking hands is to stop, or at least slow, the spread of many infectious diseases. Physicians traditionally shake a patient’s hand when greeting the patient and when leaving the patient. It is way of putting the patient at ease and establishing rapport.
Now that it has been discovered that the deadly MERS virus was spread from one individual to another through a handshake, there is even more attention being given to this longstanding social custom. JAMA is suggesting that all healthcare environments be declared “handshake-free zones” and that signs be put up notifying patients and their families. The wording goes something like this: “Handshake-free zone: to protect your health and the health of those around you, please refrain from shaking hands while on these premises.”
There are already individuals who refuse to shake hands, even in the business world, for fear of spreading germs. However, in doing so, these germ-a-phobes run the risk of insulting other people and losing business.
The debate has just begun. I think we are going to hear a lot more on this subject. For now I agree with Dr. Dave Hnida, CBSDenver.com blogger, that common sense and personal hygiene are what we need to consider. Washing your hands frequently and using hand-sanitizer are already proven ways to preserve an important social custom and prevent the spread of disease.
What is your opinion on the issue of the handshake? Is it to shake or not to shake?
Keep on shaking and washing your hands!
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