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by Abigail Van Buren

Cleanliness Protects Hospital Workers and Patients Alike

DEAR ABBY: Twenty-five years ago, a group of veterinarians developed and patented a hand-washing device that would give a surgical scrub in 30 seconds. A portable model that could be placed on a cart and moved from room to room was available. Prototype models were proved effective by bacteriologic testing. Though several companies expressed interest, we were never able to bring the device to market.

While there have been tremendous advances in the medical field in the last 25 years, the age-old problem of contaminated hands, first described by Semmelweis in the 19th century, still persists. -- WILLIAM V. LUMB, DVM, PHD, FORT COLLINS, COLO.

DEAR DR. LUMB: Unfortunately, you're right. And hand-washing is still the single most effective method of disease prevention. To quote an old saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."