To stay well, don't touch the T zone

LETTER — Posted Oct. 17, 2011

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Regarding "Too few health professionals getting flu shots" (Article, Sept. 5): An even more effective way to cut down on all of the respiratory diseases in health care personnel would be to mandate strict compliance with the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness that the AMA endorsed in 2001.

The fourth principle -- "Above all, do not put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth" -- would be extremely important for health professionals to comply with, since no one would contract any respiratory infectious disease (flu, flu-like illness or bacteria) picked up from surfaces if they never breached this principle. Imagine the benefit to an individual's health and the health of all of the population we serve.

No health care professional, physicians included, should ever touch the T zone (mucus membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth, the only portal of entry into the human body for all respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases). Many people who have had the flu vaccine become sick annually with flu-like illnesses.

Please pass this solution on to our patients so they may stay well, as well. It's a simple solution to a complex problem.

William Sawyer, MD, Cincinnati

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/10/17/edlt1017.htm.

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