Thursday, September 20, 2007

White Coats No More

This is a great move by the UK Department of Health.

White coats off, UK docs told

LONDON — British hospitals are banning neckties, long sleeves and jewellery for doctors — and their traditional white coats — in an effort to stop the spread of deadly hospital-borne infections, according to new rules published yesterday.

Hospital dress codes typically urge doctors to look professional, which for male doctors, has usually meant wearing a tie. But as concern over hospital-borne infections has intensified, doctors are taking a closer look at their clothing.

"Ties are rarely laundered but worn daily," the Department of Health said in a statement. "They perform no beneficial function in patient care and have been shown to be colonised by pathogens."

A 2004 study of doctors' neckties at a New York hospital found nearly half of them carried at least one species of infectious microbe.

Last year, the British Medical Association urged doctors to go without the accessories, calling them "functionless clothing items".

The new regulations, which will take effect next year, mean an end to doctors' traditional long-sleeved white coats, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said.

Fake nails, jewellery and watches, which the department warned could harbour germs, are also out.

Johnson said the "bare below the elbows" dress code would help prevent the spread of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, the deadly bacteria resistant to nearly every available antibiotic.

Popularly known as a "superbug", MRSA accounts for more than 40 per cent of in-hospital blood infections in Britain.

Because the bacteria is so hard to kill, healthcare workers have instead focused on containing its spread through improvements to hospital hygiene.

Doctors and nurses who do not adequately wash their hands pose a far bigger risk to patients warns Dr James Steinberg, an Emory University infectious disease specialist. — AP

When I was an intern, then an MO doing hospital postings, we had to follow a dress code, which meant ladies had to wear skirts (no pants allowed unless on night call), & covered shoes (meaning court shoes, not thongs or Croc-like sandals!) while the guys had to wear ties or bow ties. It was a pain especially when, as an intern, you had to do all the scut work, running around the wards, doing multiple rounds a day, setting drips, taking blood (no such thing as phlebotomists in my day :( ).

I don't know about other doctors, but I find it less of a strain on my back to squat next to the patient's chair or bed when setting drips or taking blood (& also less risk of exposing my chest to the male patients!!!). Try squatting in a skirt. If it's a slim cut one, damned difficult. If it's a flare skirt , you end up sweeping the floor with it. And the shoes...OMG, talk about plantar fasciitis & bunions!

I used to envy the docs I saw on TV wearing those oh-so-comfortable scrubs. I wonder why doctors in Singapore can't change into scrubs when they get to the hospitals (even if they are not working in the OR), & at the end of the day, leave them for the hospital laundry to wash so that they don't bring home all those nasty hospital germs.

Besides, I think scrubs are sexier looking than street clothes.



lab rat said...

what i don't get is why med students HAVE to wear their lab coats to the food court / houseman's canteen / cafeteria. their lab coats have got to be one of the ickiest things around and they wear it to places where there are patients and other staff EATING. ICK!

aliendoc said...

Maybe they think it looks cool & glamorous?

No, but I agree with you...ICK indeed.

Med Student said...

Its easier to wear it than to carry it in hand. White coats aren't glamorous... they indicate our status as the lowest lifeform in the wards. haha

Anonymous said...

The A&E that I used to work in expect us to bring home our scrubs to wash - isn't that worst?