There's a simple way to stop the spread of disease in hospitals, where drug-resistant germs are running so rampant they're practically taking over: Wash your darned hands.

Yet when it comes to this basic step -- a step we all learned in preschool -- today's leading medical students get an "F."

Only a third of students surveyed at Germany's Hannover Medical School were able to name the five situations in which they need to wash their hands.

For the record, the correct answers are: before contact with a patient, before preparing IV fluids, after removing gloves, after touching the patient's bed, and after contact with vomit.

I hope all of them at least got that last one right -- and if you think any of this is limited to German medical students, you're kidding yourself.

Heck, even our full-grown docs with walls full of degrees and years of experience fail at basic hygiene more often than you'd ever want to know. In some studies, they've been caught red-handed not washing their hands after using the bathroom... even when someone was in the same restroom watching them!

It's not just disgusting -- it's reprehensible. People go into hospitals and die every day not because of the condition that brought them there... but because of infections they picked up IN THE HOSPITAL.

Some 1.7 million patients suffer from hospital-acquired infections in the United States every single year -- and close to 100,000 of them DIE because of those infections.

That's even more than the number of people killed each year by traffic accidents and drug overdoses combined!

Many of these infections and deaths can be prevented with simple common-sense hygiene -- yet neither the doctors of today nor the doctors of tomorrow seem to know what that means.