Weighing the possibility of nixing the white coat — 5 thoughts

The medical community is divided as to whether staff's apparel, including white coats, could result in patient infections, as only a small number of studies have shown that apparel could lead to such infections, according to Medscape.

Here are five thoughts:

1. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service adopted a "bare below the elbows" policy in 2008. The policy stated providers should wear short-sleeved lab costs and not wear wristwatches or neckties.

2. In 2014, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America published guidelines that supported a BBE policy for non-operating room settings. The guidelines said if providers wear long-sleeved white coats, they should take steps to lower the risk of germ transmission.

3. Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America's guidelines do not assert BBE's effectiveness in lowering infection rates, however. The guidelines use phrases such as "paucity of data" throughout the recommendations.

4. Physicians' opinions on BBEs are rather mixed, with some arguing the policy is not more hygienic than other methods. Additionally, many patients prefer their providers sport a white coat. Many providers say they wear a white coat as a sign of professionalism and identity.

5. Some experts say rather than focusing on whether to nix the white coat, the industry could emphasize the need for hand hygiene compliance. The CDC estimates that some healthcare providers only practice hand hygiene practices 50 percent of the time.

More articles on quality & infection control:
American Academy of Pediatrics: 5 recommendations to prepare for adverse event disclosures
Central-line infection costs the US economy $46k — 6 key facts on HAIs
Patients often don't choose nearby retail clinics over EDs, despite major cost saving opportunities — 4 highlights

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