A group of doctors in one US hospital have begun a crackdown on handshaking in a bid to cut down on germs and bacteria being spread.

The UCLA hospital in California has started a program in one of their wards to minimise the number of handshakes between doctors, nurses, staff and patients.

Staff treating the most vulnerable patients have been clamping down on the hand greeting, particularly those in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The scheme was pioneered back in 2015 by Dr Mark Sklansky, a professor of clinical paediatrics and chief of paediatric cardiology.

Telling ABC News about the dangers he discovered, he said: "The handshake-free zone brings attention to the hands as vectors to disease, f people knew this years ago, [handshakes] would not be part of the practice of healthcare."

The scheme was launched after it was found that staff who don't wash their hands properly placed vulnerable patients in hospitals at risk. By implementing handshake-free zones in the hospital, Sklansky is hopeful that the number of infections comes down, which he said was "likely".

Other departments in the Californian hospital have expressed interest in the plan but will hold off until the scheme has been properly tested in the NICU ward.

The World Health organisation found that "hand hygiene contributes significantly to keeping patients safe".

Similar studies have been undertaken before. Aberystwyth University considered the health differences between various hand greetings, including shakes, high fives and fist bumps.

Its research found that the handshake transmitted the highest levels of bacterium while the fist bump transmitted the least of the three.