Sanitizer study: Even docs ignore instructions

trinkaus-preprint-thumbnailEven in a medical building, despite fears of the flu, most patients—and most medical personnel, too—disregard instructions to use a hand-sanitizer station.

A new study [click on the image or click here to download a PDF] to be published in the Annals of Improbable Research, examined the hand-sanitizing behavior of patients and doctors who entered a New York-area medical building:

This multi-story building was used by approximately 80 physicians and related health care professionals, and their staffs, operating out of about 30 differing private practice offices. Immediately inside the entrance to the building, there was positioned a user-activated hand sanitizing station. Attached to the device was a prominently printed sign, at eye level, which read, in large clear lettering, a message to the effect that everyone entering the facility must disinfect their hands….

RESULTS: Those wearing a hospital identification badge, or dressed in seemingly hospital garb, were judged to be health care practitioners: the others health care clients. Of the 108 practitioners observed, 3 (3%) stopped and used the sanitizing station. As to the clients, 23 (6%) of the 392 noted sanitized their hands.

The study’s author, John Trinkaus, is a professor emeritus at Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York. In 2003 Professor Trinkaus was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in literature for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him. More recently he published a series of studies showing that children who visit shopping mall Santas generally are not happy with the experience.