Many long-established procedures in medicine and surgery are carried out in an uncritical and ritualistic manner. A good example is the disinfection of a patient’s skin before injection or venepuncture. An application of a liquid is expected by patients, and gives confidence to both them and their doctors or nurses. Yet where the practice has been abandoned there have been no apparent ill effects.1 Recent findings in skin microbiology suggest that the question of skin preparation for injections needs review.
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