Mark Sklansky ’84, a pediatric cardiologist and professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, thinks people in hospitals are way too friendly. Take all the hand shaking. Others may see the greetings as warm and helpful; Sklansky sees germs being spread, especially if those hands haven’t just been hand sanitized. In 2015 he set up six-month handshake-free zones in the neonatal intensive-care units of two UCLA hospitals, where signs encouraged people “to find other ways to greet each other.” A survey noticed less hand-shaking but didn’t determine whether that led to fewer infections. Whether or not shaking hands less frequently reduces disease, Sklansky believes it could help remind people to wash their hands more frequently. “I actually think handshake-free zones will bring attention to the hands as vectors for disease,” he said on NPR’s Morning Edition, “and help improve compliance with hand hygiene.”

Illustration by Jim Stoten