Need for New Dress Code for Doctors? A New Study Suggests Yes

From what you’ve seen on television and in real-life hospital settings, most surgeons and operating room nurses are seen wearing short-sleeved scrubs. However, if you were to visit your neighborhood doctor when you’re feeling under the weather, would you find him wearing the same attire? Chances are, they will be wearing something a bit more professional. If you are germaphobic, proceed reading with caution …

To the human eye, what doctors wear seem like crisp, clean outfits. From their polished shoes, dress shirt, tie and slacks it has never been thought that these items could be part of the problem. Under a microscope however, the germs left lingering tell a different story. In a recent study published by The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, it was uncovered that these professional garments play an integral part in the spreading of germs. Ties, lab coats, long-sleeved shirts and jewelry were found to have traces of staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), acinetobacter species (which can be resistant to antibiotics and cause severe infections), enterobacteriaceae (such as e-coli) and pseudomonas species (one of the main causes of pneumonia).

While there are current guidelines in place to protect against the spreading of germs, here are a few uniform modifications to can help in those efforts.

  • Wear shirts with short sleeves and avoid wearing anything with long sleeves.
  • Avoid wearing tight jewelry, including watches and rings. If worn, disinfect each item after coming in contact with patients.
  • Avoid wearing neckties and scarves or wash them on a regular basis.
  • Regularly wash lab coats and scrubs once a week in hot water with bleach to disinfect.
  • Disinfect and/or replace ID tags, lanyards, cell phones, pagers and any other items if they come in contact with patients.