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Super Bowl Sanitation: “Washed Up” Giants Outpoint Docs

Is the New York Giants bathroom more sanitary than your hospital room? Could be. And that player cleanliness may even have helped send the team to the Super Bowl.

Freakonomics co-author and self-confessed germophobe Stephen Dubner, working on a Football Freakonomics segment for the National Football League, noticed that every urinal in the football Giants’ bathroom had a plastic pump bottle of hand sanitizer perched on top – a phenomenon he promptly documented photographically.

Health care-associated infections cause more than 98,000 patient deaths every year. Yet as I’ve noted previously, the guy who just used the toilet at the train station is way more likely to have clean hands than the guy walking up to your bed – or into the operating room – at the local hospital. That’s based on my comparing hospital sanitation with the results of a surreptitious survey by researchers from Harris Interactive of more than 6,000 adults using restrooms at six high-volume sites across the country.

At New York City’s Grand Central Station and Penn Station, only 80 percent of men and women washed up. However, even Atlanta’s Turner Field, where just 65 percent of men washed their hands, looked positively sterile compared to hospitals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that baseline compliance for hand hygiene was just 26 percent in intensive care units and 36 percent in non-ICUs.

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