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Do you shake hands with a doctor?

Today during lunch we had a most interesting conversation.

The question: if you go to see a doctor and walk in to his office, do you shake his hand?

On our table, today, the French girl, the German boy and I agreed that we did, at least in our home country do so, while the English guy maintained that he wouldn't. A doctor, he argued, provided a service and hence, just as you don't shake hands with a butcher or a ground stewardess you don't do so with a gp. So unless he's the family surgeon whom you've known for years and years you wouldn't shake hands with your doctor.

What do you guys think? I think we might have touched upon a very interesting cultural difference here.


  • The Englishman is correct, as always.

    + why would doctors want to catch germs off patients? I would imagine medics only touch people if necessary.

    Now, please cough ...
  • Turn your head and cough .

    I shake hands with my western Doc - typically get a hug from my accupuncturist and when i shake hands with my Chiro he typically adjusts my wrist.
  • I agree with Viges, over here we dont shake hands with our gp
  • what a funny detail that is:hehe:

    asked an italian guy and he agreed that in italy you certainly would
  • I do, of course. Why not? In my opinion, it's more than just a service, it's about health - somehtuing really important and that's why I shake hand to express my trust.
  • Doctors......., no way, but you might give their dog a scratch on
    the chest. P.S. Blokes don't see doctors over here!

    Gynecologists...... Never!
  • Yep, basically to make sure he isn't concealing a knife or has a rubber glove on already.


    Seriously, if you shake hands with anybody, why not your own doctor. As long as you can see a wash basin and antiseptic near.

    You need to sense whether he's shaky, flaky, overly aggressive, limp-wristed of happy?

    I wouldn't waste too long though since I'm paying.

    He should let go after three or four pumps.
  • I always shake hands with my doctor. I admit I know him for quite a while now, but that's not the only reason. I find it important to have a kind of relationship with my doctor because most of the time the reason of your visit is quite personal. I don't buy a pound of minced meat there....
    When we shake hands and look at each other, I know he's concentrating on me.
  • I see a difference between my 2 countries : Holland and Spain.

    When I lived in Holland I have had the same doctor all my life.
    When I was a little kid and I was very ill he would come to our house (they do that in Holland).
    So he's very well known. When you visit his office (=private office near their house)he stands up and stretches his hand. Of course I shake it.
    I mean, if he stretches his hand you won't say "no, i won't shake hands".

    In Spain kids get a pediatrist (sp?) and when you get adult you get a normal doctor. They DON'T do home visits.
    You have to go to a public health center where all the doctors are together.
    When it's your turn you enter, but the doctor doesn't get up and streches hand.
    THAT's why I also don't strech hand to shake it.

    Simple as that !
  • If she's a pretty lady I guess you should kiss her as well...
  • Can think of a few that I wanted to..............

    Interesting point, though. Pissed and Broke has a point, avoidance of quacks is the Aussie way. Let's face it, 90% of the time you are crook from a virus, and there's nothing they can do except take your money and uselessly prescribe anitbiotics. Great for the drug companies, no use to you, and potentially catastrophic for future generations.

    Spent a lot of time with the family doctor in Canberra when wheeling my two mildly asthmatic children in there every month, or so. Whilst we had a nice relaxed raport, I was never once tempted to shake his hand. Just never occurred to me, and he never offered. If I was a doctor, I reckon I would avoid physixcal contact in that environment as well.
  • So there I was at SF Pre Selection Course, Camp Williams Utah. God's country - and they let you know it. One of the first things we had to undergo was a Class A Flight Physical. Part of that is the ubiquitous "finger wave" exam.

    So I am going thriu all of the medical testing stations and I come around a corner and there are two lines. I ask one of the other troops what each line was for - he said the "finger wave". I asked why one line had only a few people and the other line was all the way down the hall.

    The answer was that the doc giving the wave in the long line was a HOT female Captain.

    The other ..... you can finger it out.

  • US: Hug and back slap (usual check for weapons)
    England: Just a “How do you do”
    France: Hug and kiss both cheeks, the nurse too!
    Middle East Hug (check for wires) and kiss both cheeks
    North Pole Rub noses
    Australia Just “G’Day mate”, there’s usually no safe place to put down your beer
    Italy What and stop talking?
    Brazil Full embrace, Nurse too!
  • in Malta we never use doctors,

    we heal by ourselves over time!:hehe:
  • [paranoid mode] Once again confirms that the British do not consider themselves part of Europe [/paranoid mode] ;)
  • and Malta is still in the dark ages!
  • Stan, check the map. Great Britain hasn't been part of continental Europe for a long time. Thank Christ.

    Nice place to visit and all that ...
  • i always shake hands with my doctors.
  • I don't butmainly due to the fact that the majority of them are Officers. And you never know what germs they may bring out into the real world after an evening at the Officer's Mess.
  • This morning I had to visit my Doctor who first thing put out his hand to shake. Then he proceeded to Remove 50 euro from My wallet!
    50 euro to tell me I had the Flu and a handshake! Thats Business
  • Which was pretty much my point. But twixt then and now my dears, I have had to actually visit one of them myself. Got a bug last week that turned nasty and resulted in a fever from last Wednesday that persists today.

    So yesterday, Mrs Lease prods me with the barrel of her gun and off we go to young doctor unpronouncable. Yadda, yadda, yadda, go get xrays and come back tommorrow. Came back tommorrow, confirm pneumonia (lower right lobe if you please), and now I know I truly have reached middle age.

    Very Ironic that the discussion comes up just as a genuine, interventionable illness comes along. Even more ironic that it co-incides with yet another assault on general nicotine. Gave up again Sunday a week ago and this is my reward.

    I did take the opportunity to observe closely for any signs that indicated a desire to shake hands but can only report that the gentleman showed remarkable dexterity in staying as far away from his sweating, heaving patient, as the physical barriers represented by the walls would allow. Must be an Indian thing.
  • get well, lease
  • Errr, ummmm, not wishing to be vulgar but ... am I in the will?
  • Very sensible old thing.

    ..and by happy circumstance you are in it. I have bequeathed that everything I own be liquidated and the funds put toward a foundation whose goal will be the erradication from the planet of all things English. It'll be called the 'Proper Solution' and from all accounts will be wildly popular across the planet (Except India & Pakistan). Reports of long term linguistic problems among North Americans may have to be monitored.
  • It's the warmth I like, hands across the ocean and all that.
  • ....are you related to Douglas Adams Lease? Sound hauntingly familiar those comments.
  • Are you questionning my origininality? Can there be even a salmon of doubt? I think you need to look into the long dark teatime of the soul and come forth with an appology.

    Now THOSE are Adams references. The rest is my own crap.
  • in malaysia, outside the top 1% wealth laden populace and most of the upper middle class society, we usually go to see any GP convenient to where one is at any relevant time. so usually we don't have a personal physician as such.

    in most popular private clinics one has to wait for an average half to 2 hours for your turn, so sometimes one goes to a less popular clinic to get some prescriptions for your kids' common cold or whatever.

    so we don't usually shake hands with our docs...besides most of these clinics use "locum" (part time docs employed from government hospitals) to fill in the odd graveyard hours to stay open 24 hours...therefore, one usually never knows which doctor one might be seeing.

    in serious cases, if you have the money you go into a priate hospital to see your physician/surgeon/specialist who might be your friend but then you are already half dead to be able to raise a smile let alone raise your right hand to grasp the idiot's hand.

  • In Finland, one would usually shake hands with his doctor. Whether the doctor is a personal friend or someone you've never met before doesn't matter in this case.

    I see it as a mutual sign of respect. It is a token gesture from the doctor to imply that he is truly interested in doing everything he can to improve the patient's condition. Likewise, it's a way for the patient to show that he has faith in the skills of the doctor.

    Given these aspects, I think shaking hands at the beginning of the meeting creates a better atmosphere rather than just directly proceeding to the matter at hand.

    However, when you look at the subject purely from a rational point of view, the habit of shaking hands with your doctor is of course insane. The doctor, by definition, meets sick people all day long. Shaking hands with every one of them is a great way to spread diseases.

    It's similar to every customer of a restaurant shaking hands with the chef upon arriving. A nice gesture, but when you're puking your guts out after eating, you might reconsider whether it was such a good idea after all..
  • The only patients one shakes hands with are the private ones. Thats inside info provided free of charge!
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