DEAR ABBY: I have never seen this subject in your column -- shaking hands with patients in hospitals. There has been a lot of information to the effect that we transmit germs when we shake hands with, hug or otherwise touch others.
When I visit patients in a hospital, I refuse to shake hands with them. I tell them they have enough troubles now and they do not need me bringing new and different germs to complicate their problems.
It would seem to me that hospitals would discourage the practice of shaking hands with patients. I would hope that the doctors would support this policy.
Thank you for listening to me. You may use my name. -- HARRY C. WILLIAMS JR., NASHVILLE, TENN.
DEAR MR. WILLIAMS: The doctors do support you in that policy. I recall an infection awareness campaign that was sponsored by the Mayo Clinic (that medical mecca in Minnesota) in which posters were displayed throughout the hospital corridors. Upon each was illustrated a pair of hands, and beneath, the terse message: "The 10 Most Common Causes of Infection."
As a reminder to doctors, nurses and employees of the Mayo Clinic to wash their hands frequently, other posters were displayed bearing this catchy message: "A milligram of handwashing is worth a kilogram of antibiotics." Obviously, the same goes for visitors.