Wash Your Hands – Dr Jerry Hankins

washing hands

You’ve heard it before, maybe more so during your childhood, but it’s important to wash your hands as a child and as an adult. Washing one’s hands helps prevent infections and diseases from spreading. Cleaning hands is one of the most important steps one can take to avoid spreading germs to other people and getting sick themselves. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

Common diseases that are spread as a result of people not sufficiently washing their hands are E coli and Salmonella. Throughout the day we may get germs on our hands from, using the bathroom, handling raw meats or touching surfaces that have not been washed and where germs have been able to accumulate.

The problem is compounded in germ ridden venues like hospitals where, The Centers for Disease Control estimated 75,000 patients died last year from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in the United States. These are often preventable by doctors and patients simply washing their hands. Not washing one’s hands is a very expensive problem here in the United States. It is estimated these hospital related infections cost our healthcare system $30 billion dollars a year.

As doctors we are constantly in environments that require us to clean our hands. There are a few gadgets that are coming out that help with the ease of cleaning our hands as we are often too busy to remember. Swipesense, which is easily attached to our scrubs and gives the hospital data as to the cleanliness of our hands. Also, BioVigil which has red, yellow, and green light depending on how long it’s been since washing our hands. ¬†We don’t necessarily need any added motivation in the form of public humiliation, but gadgets like this serve an important purpose.

The summer is coming to end so if you’re trying to get in your last few trips to state fair, or zoo. Contact with animals is one of the easiest ways to contract contagious infections. Also, taking into consideration the rapid spread Ebola scare in West Africa and the cost to American health care it is time to think twice about not washing your hands.