Not necessary to wash?

Question: I read the column by Dr. Gott each week. A few questions: What are his credentials? It seems that he is always pushing a publication or two each week that he has written. A few weeks ago he said it is not necessary to wash your hands when leaving the washroom. To me, this was way off the wall. It goes against motherhood and apple pie. Other than the two letters that you published about the subject, did you receive much of a response? -- Reg Morgan, Coulee Dam

Answer: I've added Dr. Gott's official biography to this response so that readers can judge for themselves his qualifications.

I guess the primary point to make is that newspaper advice columnists, whether medical, etiquette or personal or whatever, have to be viewed with a certain grain of salt. They try to deal with complex problems and issues in a short space and so avoid the sort of detailed and truly meaningful answers a person might get from a personal physician or adviser.

Taken in that spirit, the Dr. Gott's of the world are pretty harmless. On the hand-washing issue, we took only a few calls and ran all of the letters received, so the response wasn't significant. Here is the good doctor's biography:

Dr. Peter Gott combines the empathy of an old-fashioned family doctor with the outspoken fervor of a patients' rights advocate in his nationally syndicated column, Dr. Gott. A general internist in practice in Connecticut since 1966, Dr. Gott responds to readers' medical questions with sensitivity and accuracy. His daily column has been syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association since 1984. Dr. Gott devotes six days each week to answering readers' medical questions, and one day each week to his own health-related commentary. No House Calls (Simon & Schuster, 1986) is a collection of some of Dr. Gott's columns. Dr. Gott is a graduate of Princeton University and Tulane Medical School. -- Steve Smith, editor

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