Should white coats be banned to reduce the risk of transmitting infection?

  • Kathleen Dougherty MD - 8 years ago

    My answer is yes and no, for all the reasons above- plus some convenience factors no one has mentioned: women's clothing is notorious for not having any pockets, and we need places to stash keys, money, beepers/cell phones, pens- although some of those are phasing out, too.
    Ready identification is good, as is the ability to launder regularly, although issuing scrubs to all in the hospital would be a more sensible solution. Since hospitals won't pay for that, why can't the white coat be adapted based on germ research? No sleeves below the elbow- how about elbow length white coats?

  • Diane Henzey - 8 years ago

    The "no" response does not get to the real reason many prefer to wear the coats. The preference is not because of tradition, but due to sanitary issues. However, in a busy setting it does help the patients to distinguish the providers from the rest of the staff.

  • Jennifer Warren - 8 years ago

    It is much easier to thoroughly wash and sanitize a white coat every day, than it is to sanitize a suit jacket, dress shirt, sweater, etc, every day!! I suspect that suit jackets and other clothing worn daily by physicians can hide filth and germs - at least it is obvious when a white coach needs cleaning. And it can be bleached - I doubt anyone is bleaching or dry-cleaning their street clothes on a daily basis.

  • Khalid Manzoor M.D. - 8 years ago

    Dr. Shaner, thank you for your 39 years of service. I wish we had more people from your times, to help and guide us & to remind us of traditions in the face of an ever changing medical world. "From too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old (Good Lord deliver us)" - Sir Robert Hutchison

  • I agree with all the above comments. We need to be concerned about hand-washing before and after every patient encounter and using hand hygiene in addition to washing and wearing a clean labcoat daily over our street clothes or scrubs. Dr. Semmelweiss's research showed the strong correlation of germs on ties and clothing of physician providers to serious disease and increased mortality in their patients which still rings true today.

  • Janet Jones - 8 years ago

    Poor Semmelweis! It seems his work on doctors transmitting infection on their (frock) coats is to be ignored into perpetuity.

  • L S - 8 years ago

    I agree with Dr. Kessous -

    Healthcare providers should clean their coats - have enough to change daily for one week!

  • robert julian md - 8 years ago

    How about we sanitize the mouse and keyboard that is used for data entry after each patient encounter?

  • Efraim Kessous MD - 8 years ago

    Absolutely agree with you, and not yet 39 yrs in the field. Its part of a professional look that every physician should have. Also having your name visible to your pts, is a must , after all we are still service providers. I am actually surprised that nobody mentioned the part of keeping clean from the clothes one come/go's home with. I am sure that someone will say "but when you wear the same coat every day its full of germs"..... so wash the coat as much as you wash your clothes. I am wondering is there is some research on that. ??


  • Thomas Shaner M.D. - 8 years ago

    I guess it would be appropriate if we dressed like data entry clerks, since that's what insurance companies and the govt. have had us become. I like still to appear as a doctor to my patients; 39 years of being a physician makes one sentimental I guess. How do date entry folks dress????

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