A new call to prevent and control infections in the medical workplace may mean an end to the doctor’s white coat, according to a recent article in The New York Times.
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America has issued guidance on what healthcare workers should wear outside of the operating room, suggesting hospitals to adopt a “bare below the elbows” policy that includes short sleeves and no wristwatch, jewelry or neckties during contact with patients in order to minimize infection risk.
The group also recommends that if the use of white coats is not entirely abandoned, each doctor should have at least two, worn alternately and laundered frequently, that they are encouraged to remove before approaching patients.
These recommendations, which are based on the biological plausibility of transmitting infection through clothing, are being suggested in addition methods already proven to reduce infection, including hand washing, bathing patients with antibacterial soap, and checklists for inserting intravenous lines.
“Apparel should come next in level of concern,” sad Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, a professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The more patients are aware that apparel may impact hospital infections, the more doctors will consider how clean they are.” Read the full article here:
The “white coat” is a well known term for physicians given they usually wear one, especially in hospitals around the very sick. However, it has been unrecognized until recently these white coats may also carry and make infections worse through bacteria caught up in the fibers of the white coats.
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