Friday, December 9, 2016

You Don't Want to Know

A doctor should wash his hands before examining you. If he doesn’t, do you remind him? I’m sure you don’t although popular health writers urge you.

A doctor in the office has seen someone who may be sicker than you before he arrives. You may not want to know this, but studies confirm that handwashing is rare.

I wouldn’t be writing this if I weren’t an exception. Ironically, before most visits I’m at home where no one is sick. My hands are less likely to transmit an infection, but I wash anyway.

In a hotel room, I have no high-tech office and subservient staff to proclaim my charisma. It’s all on me, so I wear a dark suit and tie, carry a traditional doctor’s bag, and maintain a quiet dignity. After interviewing the guest, I excuse myself to wash my hands.

I also wash before leaving. In this case, I’m looking out for myself. Perhaps half of sick hotel guests suffer upper respiratory or GI infections, and I don’t want to catch them. For the same reason, I ask the guest to open the door for me.

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