AMA considering role of physicians’ clothing in transmitting bacteria

Picture a doctor in your mind’s eye, and what do you see? A stethoscope, maybe. Perhaps a little black bag. And almost certainly a white lab coat. But that last item may be destined for oblivion.

More Information:

The New York Times reports, “The American Medical Association is studying a proposal made at its annual meeting in June that doctors hang up their lab coats — for good.”

The AMA’s “Council on Science and Public Health is looking at the role clothing plays in transmitting bacteria and other microbes and is expected to announce its findings next year.”

The British National Health System has already “adopted a ‘bare below the elbow’ hospital dress policy that bans long fingernails, ties, hand and wrist jewelry – and . . . lab coats.”

Although “little data existed that definitively ties lab coats and other accoutrements to . . . infections,” Peter Ragusa, the author of the resolution and a student at the Yale School of Public Health, claimed that “the potential for transmission is significant.”

Guenter Risse, a physician and author, also noted that “there’s been a trend toward taking the coats off . . . because they were felt to be intimidating.”

It should be interested to see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll wear my white coat, but be sure it’s laundered twice a week.

One thought on “AMA considering role of physicians’ clothing in transmitting bacteria

  • Dear Sirs,
    it was with a great surprise that I read the articlo above.
    I´ve been thinking for years about the use of white lab coat.
    Not exactly in the way you´ve mentioned, but I promisse you I
    can´t understand how doctors go walking on the street wearing their white lab coat and afterwords come back to the hospital and attend their patients.
    I think their lab coat should only be worn inside the hospital and changed a couple of times per day depending on the patients they have.
    I was in São Paulo a couple of weeks ago and again I saw in a Shopping Center in the neighbourhood of a famous and well-known hospital lots of doctors shopping, eating, having a cup of coffee in their lab coat and I was about asking one of them about the hygiene and so on, but since I´m a laywoman I prefered not to do it.

    Anyway I think you are on the right way and should also be aware
    about what I mentioned.

    Be lucky!!!
    Best regards,

    Celisa Canto
    Portuguese as a Foreign Language Teacher

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