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Now wash your hands

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 23 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:402
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author
  1. wendymoore{at}

    Pontius Pilate washed his hands of blame. Lady Macbeth feverishly tried to scrub away the “damned spot.” Yet healthcare professionals have remained imperviously resilient to the handwashing message.

    Ever since the first tentative hints that a brief encounter with soap and water might be a good idea between examining patients, doctors have guffawed at the suggestion that their healing hands might actually spread disease. Charles White, the obstetrician who helped found Manchester Royal Infirmary, was possibly the first to mention the unmentionable. Observing the high death toll of mothers and babies in obstetrics practice, …

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