You'd think that... but sadly, you'd be wrong.
Healthcare workers are as dirty as everyone else, maybe even dirtier -- and new research shows that many of them are walking around with some of the nastiest germs of all on their hands.
It's Clostridium difficile, of C. diff, a bacteria that causes diarrhea so severe you could die from it -- and as it becomes resistant to antibiotics, it's getting extremely difficult to defeat.
It's been spreading like wildfire in hospitals and other care facilities, and the new study out of Europe shows why: many doctors are nurses are actually passing it around with every touch.
Overall, 25 percent of hospital workers have C. diff spores on their hands -- including 42 percent of nursing assistants, 23 percent of physicians and 19 percent of nurses.
It's inexcusable. But on the other hand, it's hardly surprising. As I said, other studies have also shown that doctors are nurses are often walking around with dirty hands -- and many not only don't wash between patients, but they also don't wash after using the bathroom.
Hospitals are putting up more "wash your hands" signs, and some are even testing devices that buzz and beep to remind healthcare workers that it's time to suds up.
Personally, I don't think any adult should have to be reminded to wash his or her hands, especially doctors and nurses -- and especially doctors and nurses about to put those same hands onto their patients in a critical care setting.
And that means if you want to protect yourself, you have to take matters into your own hands.
If you're in a healthcare facility -- from your doctor's office to the hospital -- and you don't see the doctor or nurse wash his or her hands before approaching you, ask.
Don't be shy about this. Your health -- and maybe even your life -- is on your line.
And if you've been in a hospital or care facility or any other place where you may have been exposed to C. diff, I recommend increasing your probiotics so your stomach has what it needs to fight back.
Comments by Dr. Mark Stengler