You must have got that email forward that says that your keyboard carries more germs than your backside. The message, apparently, is not that you can scratch your backside and eat with the same hand. The message is that you shouldn’t type on your computer keyboard and then eat without washing your hands. The real implication may be clinical: a new technology that allows surgeons to review CT-scan or x-ray images while operating, without touching the computer keyboard, may actually help prevent wound contamination.
According to the New Scientist, this new touch-me-not technology (likened to that in the movie Minority Report) allows a surgeon to wave his hands in mid-air in front of the computer to flip over to the next pic.

…a screen and gesture-recognition system that allows surgeons to flip back and forth through radiology images, such as MRI and CT scans, by simply groping in mid-air. Their system, called Gestix, comprises a colour video camera above a flat, widescreen monitor placed next to the operating table. The video signal from the camera is fed to a PC, where software trained to detect the colour of the surgeon’s gloves tracks the movements of their hand.

This, they believe, could help stop the spread of the deadly MRSA bug in hospitals.
The catch is that surgeons would have to be taught eight hand movements. Now, isn’t that expecting too much of a surgeon, who is, by popular consensus, the Kanishka (headless/brainless king) of medicine?

(pic source:

18 responses to “THE i-UNTOUCH?!

  1. R-Doc: I am all for new technologies, especially if they can reduce errors and be non-intrusive, but having seen British hospitals at least, I would think this may not contribute greatly to reducing MRSA.

    Bathrooms have been found to be very filthy; sometimes open gauzes and bits are disposed into empty containers; although dispensers are provided outside each ward, visitors to patients do not always observe the ‘handwash’ routine while entering or leaving.

    I think the contribution of surgery to MRSA is minuscule compared to that of other elements in the hospital eco-system.

    As for hand movements, I think they should be easy. Some surgeons I know do not even touch hot things so as to keep their hyper-tactile abilities intact. Most of them have soft hands too. Perhaps from non-soap hand washing? Who knows.. Perhaps the clue could be bottled and sold to women, eh?

  2. timely reminder about keyboards
    i think i got gastro

  3. Vivek Khadpekar


    Eight hand movements; hand-eye coordination — time to include Basics of Bharatanatyam as a compulsory subject in the first semester of the MBBS programme (two semesters for those who want to actually be surgeons; and for orthos, make that Kathakali).

    Another thought — the black box recording of the entire procedure (which would, I guess, automatically happen) would be of great help in malpractice suits — for surgeon, patient and insurance company alike.

  4. I believe they are making computers which can read one’s mind? Well,I remember reading that somewhere.
    And how about towels…surely they carry germs. Surgeons keep wiping their hands on something don’t they?

  5. Shefaly:
    I, too, have soft hands. I never thought hand washing had anything to do with it…
    Thanks for a great comment!
    Towels are usually either disposable or autoclaved before re-use.

  6. just to keep the doc informed
    im much better now dealing with the weakness , neck pain , constant headache and low fever..

  7. infact, even nita has got low fever and headache

  8. Prax,
    You just have SMS, the ‘stock-market malabsorption syndrome’!

  9. πŸ™‚ ouch my neck still hurts

  10. Now isn’t it a miracle that so many people have been walking out post-surgery without any infections all these years!
    I hope they will ensure these computers stay virus-free?!

  11. usha
    have u ever tried kaspersky ? the russian

  12. Prax: No. Is that the ultimate in anti-virus technology?

  13. Maybe someone will start making a spray on disinfectant for keyboards that will kill germs but won’t fry the circuits.

  14. Usha, Prax:
    From human viruses, you now talk of computer viruses? One day, there may be a confluent zone between the two!
    Great idea! It’s great to see you lucid, mate! πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰
    (BTW, all: I believe, seriously, that Paul and I have a very clear understanding and parity in our senses of humor, to the extent that I can freely insult him when he visits here, and he can freely laugh at it. Ain’t he great?!)

  15. In all seriousness, Doc, I enjoy the mutual teasing between us. It reminds me of how I interact with my two brothers. πŸ™‚

  16. For the Computer Virus or bad code , as some call it, ultimate in anti-virus technology is still in the worsk the other thing one could do is to switch to linux

    Doc i get what ur getting at , and definitely agree!

  17. Vivek Khadpekar


    //From human viruses, you now talk of computer viruses? One day, there may be a confluent zone between the two!//

    Looking at the amount of time some people spend with computers, I should have imagined such a zone has already been around for a while. BTW your use of the word element “-fluent” reminds me, the sales pitch for the Microsoft keyboard attached to my desktop comp included the gratuitous information that any coffee spilt on it would just flow through between the keys, landing harmlessly on the surface on which it rests. Wonder if that applies equally to tea, whiskey, treacle syrup etc.

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