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Medical Workers Caught Red-Handed

Researchers at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center got tired of just telling health care workers to wash their hands between patients. So they decided to show them why it's important.


Medical student Brittany Ekstein examined a patient known to have drug-resistant Staph on his skin — but no sign of infection. Next, she pressed her palm on a dish containing a jelly that promotes germ growth. Then she cleaned her hand with an alcohol gel and pressed it on a second dish. Twenty-four hours later, colonies of resistant Staph germs marked the imprint of the contaminated hand. The second dish remained germ-free.


Images like these appear on the Cleveland medical center's computer screen-savers. But infection control officer Dr. Curtis Donskey says it's still "an ongoing struggle" to get health workers to wash their hands.