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People in Atlanta hear it all the time. Whether it’s your mom or a poster in the restroom, the message is everywhere: Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. Use soap and hot water. And make sure you wash your hands long enough. If anyone asked you, you could tell them all of these things without having to think twice.

So, one would think that doctors would also know when to wash their hands. After using the bathroom, before eating and before going into surgery, right?

Not so fast. A recent study shows that doctors-in-training may not know everything there is to know about hand washing while practicing medicine and operating on patients. Questions posed to medical students in the survey included whether to wash after touching vomit, removing gloves and touching a patient’s bed. Of the medical students questioned, only one-fifth were able to get them all right.

What does this mean for you? Improper hand washing by doctors and physicians causes the risk of spreading germs and contagious diseases from one patient to another. This is because much of a doctor’s job involves physical contact between a patient’s body and the doctor’s hands. So, doctors who conduct surgery on someone with one disease and then don’t properly wash their hands, could very easily spread germs and cause an infection once their hands come into contact with other patients.

Thus, people who find themselves in the hospital for one reason can end up leaving the hospital with an entirely different problem, all because their doctors didn’t know when they should wash their hands.

Because doctors are professionals, they are expected to know more than the ordinary person about the tools of their trade and the safety requirements involved in the medical field. And when a professional, like doctors, falls below the standard of care required in their profession – including proper hand washing procedures – those professionals can be held liable for injuries and damages caused by their lack of knowledge or lack of care.

A doctor falling below the standard of care is known as medical malpractice, and patients who become sick or injured because of a doctor falling below the required standard of care can benefit from an attorney experienced in medical malpractice to help protect their rights and recover any monetary damages for their injuries.