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Valley ER doctor questions effectiveness of hand sanitizers, soaps

PHOENIX -- A Valley doctor said the Food and Drug Administration is right to ask for proof that antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers actually prevent people getting sick.

Dr. Thomas Bostwick works in one of the states busiest emergency room's and he uses soap and water in between visiting up to 30 patients per day.

"I've been in medicine for 30 years and in the ER for 20 years with no major illnesses," he said. "I think people are so attuned to getting something sanitized that every year, when we seemingly have the latest virus that is going to destroy mankind, people thrive on trying to kill everything."

Bostwick said he uses the same soap-and-water procedure at home. He's not sold on the merits of the antibacterial soap or the hand sanitizers that workers use to wipe down everything when a co-worker brings a bug into the office. He thinks both are placebos.

"A marketing ploy that makes people feel good," he said. "Save your money."

Bostwick has even substituted regular hand soap at home for the antibacterial and his children were none the wiser.

Bostwick said if someone is sick at work, and you touch something they've touched, wash your hands as often as you can and don't touch your mouth or eyes.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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