A Preliminary Public Health Look at Hospital Fist-Bumps

On the theory that sometimes little things help lessen problems caused by little things, comes this little paper:

Reducing pathogen transmission in a hospital setting. Handshake verses fist bump: a pilot study,” P.A. Ghareeb, T. Bourlai, W. Dutton, W.T. McClellan, Journal of Hospital Infection, epub September 19, 2013. (Thanks to investigator Marek Hlavac for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at West Virginia University, explain:

“Handshaking is a known vector for bacterial transmission between individuals. Handwashing has become a major initiative throughout healthcare systems to reduce transmission rates, but as many as 80% of individuals retain some disease-causing bacteria after washing. The fist bump is an alternative to the handshake that has become popular. We have determined that implementing the fist bump in the healthcare setting may further reduce bacterial transmission between healthcare providers by reducing contact time and total surface area exposed when compared with the standard handshake.”

This video documents the performance of a fist-bump in a non-hospital setting: