Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New infection control recommendations could make white coats obsolete

Date:
January 21, 2014
Source:
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)
Summary:
In a move to reduce health care associated infections, certain attire for health care professionals, including the traditional white coat, could become a thing of the past.

White coats, neckties, and wrist watches can become contaminated and may potentially serve as vehicles to carry germs from one patient to another, research shows.
Credit: BortN66 / Fotolia

In a move to reduce health care associated infections, certain attire for health care professionals, including the traditional white coat, could become a thing of the past.

Related Articles


"White coats, neckties, and wrist watches can become contaminated and may potentially serve as vehicles to carry germs from one patient to another," said Mark Rupp, M.D., chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and one of the authors of recommendations issued by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), one of the world's top infection control organizations

"However, it is unknown whether white coats and neck ties play any real role in transmission of infection," said Dr. Rupp, who is a past president of SHEA. "Until better data are available, hospitals and doctor's offices should first concentrate on well-known ways to prevent transmission of infection -- like hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and careful attention to insertion and care of invasive devices like vascular catheters."

The recommendations appear in the February online issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. It includes a review of patient and health care professionals' perceptions of the health professionals' attire and transmission risk, suggesting professionalism may not be contingent on wearing the traditional white coat.

Dr. Rupp said supplementary infection prevention measures could include efforts to limit the use of white coats and neckties or at least making sure they are frequently laundered.

"As these measures are unproven, they should be regarded as voluntary and if carried out, should be accompanied by careful educational programs," he said. "There is a need for education because the public, as well as health professionals, regard the white coat as a symbol of professionalism and competence. In the future, patients may see their health professionals wearing scrubs -- without white coats, ties, rings, or watches."

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections and 99,000 associated deaths in the U.S. each year.

The authors outlined the following practices to be considered by individual facilities:

1. Bare below the elbows -- defined as wearing of short sleeves and no wristwatch, jewelry, or ties during clinical practice. Facilities may consider adopting this approach to inpatient care as a supplemental infection prevention policy; however, an optimal choice of alternate attire, such as scrub uniforms or other short sleeved personal attire, remains undefined.

2. White coats -- facilities that mandate or strongly recommend use of a white coat for professional appearance should institute one or more of the following measures: a. The health professional should have two or more white coats available and have access to a convenient and economical means to launder white coats. b. Institutions should provide coat hooks that would allow removal of the white coat before contact with patients or a patient's immediate environment.

3. Laundering: a. Frequency: any apparel worn at the bedside that comes in contact with the patient or patient environment should be laundered frequently. b. Home laundering: If laundered at home, a hot water wash cycle (ideally with bleach) followed by a cycle in the dryer or ironing has been shown to eliminate bacteria.

4. Footwear: all footwear should have closed toes, low heels, and non-skid soles.

5. Shared equipment including stethoscopes should be cleaned between patients.

6. No general guidance can be made for prohibiting items like lanyards, identification tags and sleeves, cell phones, pagers, and jewelry, but those items that come into direct contact with the patient or environment should be disinfected, replaced, or eliminated.

If implemented, the authors recommend that all practices be voluntary and accompanied by a well-organized communication and education effort directed at health professionals and patients.

In their review of the medical literature, the authors noted that while patients usually prefer formal attire, including a white coat, these preferences had little impact on patient satisfaction and confidence in health professionals. Patients did not tend to perceive the potential infection risks of white coats or other clothing. However, when made aware of these risks, patients seemed willing to change their preferences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bearman, G., Bryant, K., Leekha, S., Mayer, J., Munoz-Price, L.S., Murthy, R., Palmore, T., Rupp, M., White, J. Expert Guidance: Healthcare Personnel Attire in Non-Operating Room Settings. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, February 2014

Cite This Page:

University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). "New infection control recommendations could make white coats obsolete." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092749.htm>.
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). (2014, January 21). New infection control recommendations could make white coats obsolete. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092749.htm
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). "New infection control recommendations could make white coats obsolete." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092749.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins