Tags: doctor | dress | code

Doctor Dress Code Changes Coming? Studies Show Germy Lab Coats, Ties

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 06:23 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A suggestion for a new doctor dress code follows studies that found germs on lab coats, neckties, and jewelry worn by practitioners.

Studies that found germs on lab coats, neckties and jewelry worn by doctors have at least one health care organization suggesting changes for physician attire.

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Studies have found that clothing worn by doctors, including their jewelry and shoes, can harbor some pretty nasty germs. Although the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America said there is no evidence suggesting infected clothing or personal items caused hospital-associated infections, it might be smart to make some changes.

In an article published last week in the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology Journal, the society recommended that hospitals, among other things, take a look at their doctors' dress code and whether clothing and accessory choices could contribute to cross-transmission.

Guidelines from the organization aren’t formal, USA Today reports, but include things like:
  • Not wearing rings and watches.
  • Wearing short sleeve shirts or dresses.
  • Not wearing neckties or keep them secured behind a labcoat.
  • Washing lab coats at least once a week.
  • Cleaning, disinfecting, or replacing things like lanyards, ID tags, and even cell phones and electronic equipment that is near patients.

USA Today said some studies found that one-third of doctors’ neckties had a Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on them. In addition, 70 percent of the doctors questioned said they don’t clean their ties.

“Bare below the elbows” is another way the journal article put the suggestion that doctors only wear short sleeves and that they wear no jewelry.

The ICHE article cautioned against overreacting to the information because there have not been any solid connections between attire and infection transmission. The authors looked also at what attire patients prefer and how it impacts their trust and feelings about their doctors. Most patients, and doctors as well, reported a preference for a white coat as opposed to more casual attire.

As the Internet began to pick up the message about germy doctor clothing, at least one healthcare worker seemed surprised by the idea that doctors reported washing their lab coats just every 12 days or so.

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