Hospitals and doctors’ offices are germ-filled cesspools

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You go to the doctor to get well, but, unfortunately, their offices can be so infested with germs that they may make you sicker than you were upon arrival.

Earlier this month, a University of Michigan study found antibiotic-resistant superbugs on the nostrils and hands of 14 percent of patients in two Michigan hospitals, and bacteria on about a third of objects commonly used by patients, such as the nurse call button.

Meanwhile, more than half of all confirmed US cases of the drug-resistant, potentially lethal fungus Candida auris were reported in New York and New Jersey hospitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sniffling kids, hacking parents and that old dude with an open wound he keeps touching all contribute to the petri-dish atmosphere. But there are other, less obvious areas for concern — including your doctor’s white lab coat. Meant to signal that you’re in good care, it’s likely loaded with germs that will not only make you sick but may dose you with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, according to a systematic review of studies compiled by the National Institutes of Health.

“Even when doctors wear gloves, they can still contaminate their clothing,” Miryam Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University and author of “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World,” tells The Post. “It’s difficult to resist touching a jacket or putting a hand into one’s pocket. At that point, the germs get transported.”

And if you like to greet your doctor with a handshake, think twice. Wahrman prefers “a nod and a smile,” but acknowledges that even opting for a fist bump could help you transfer 90 percent fewer germs. Here are five other hot zones to be vigilant about when you see your doc.

The stethoscope

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One of the doctor’s most ubiquitous tools, the stethoscope is also one of the most treacherous. The bell — that circular part applied to a patient’s skin — can’t help but pick up germs. “Most doctors are sensitive to that issue and wipe it down,” says Wahrman, acknowledging that the cleanup can be inconsistent or fall through the cracks altogether. “To protect yourself, it’s a good idea to not be timid and to remind the doctor to clean it.

Doctors won’t be insulted by that. And if they are? Too bad. Your health is more important than their feelings.”

The waiting-room chair

The armrests on the chairs and couches at your doctor’s office are likely rife with germs. Considering that other patients may have highly contagious diseases, such as conjunctivitis or the flu, a simple precaution will help. After sitting, “Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting your hands to your mouth, nose or eyes,” says Wahrman. “Be germ aware.”

Toys in a pediatrician’s office

It’s tough to keep kids away from the germ-covered Legos, but some pediatricians have found a solution: Segregated toys. “The sick kids play with one set of toys and the healthy kids with another,” says Wahrman. “The sick kids get each other’s germs, but at least the healthy kids stay healthy.”

If you’re concerned, it can’t hurt to ask the front desk how often they clean their toys and what they use to wipe them down — or simply reach for the sanitizer after playtime.

The door handles

No door handle will be germ-free. But the one leading in and out of your doctor’s office will be extra germy, and you should be doubly wary of the one you touch when you exit the bathroom (especially where patients are giving urine samples).

“I keep tissues in my pocket,” says Wahrman, explaining that putting one between your skin and the door will keep other patients’ germs off your hands. Taking this precaution yourself helps you protect everyone else in the waiting room. “If you’re sick, using a tissue would be helpful and considerate.”

Clipboards and pens

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Signing into the doctor’s office is such a common tradition that we rarely think about it. Too bad, because the doctor’s pen is a germy cesspool. Wahrman always has her own pen on hand. In the case of the smart-pads used by tech-forward docs, she makes sure “to wash [her] hands or apply Purell right after using [the stylus].” For extra caution, you can always opt for a tissue between skin and stylus.

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