This unusual idea, put forward by the UK's Chief Medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, is an attempt to curb the rate of hospital-acquired infections. It's reckoned that one patient is infected every two minutes in a UK hospital, and one dies every two hours from the infection.
Well below 60 per cent of doctors wash their hands between seeing patients, Sir Liam says, and so it's down to patients to tell the doctor to do so - and have some gel close by so there's no excuse.
Sir Liam thinks that the importance of hand-washing has declined in recent years among doctors, which is surprising news to us, as we can't recall any time when it was popular, even when it was first mooted 150 years ago as a simple and effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
(Source: Daily Telegraph, July 19, 2007).